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Streaming/rambling > Things My Grandma Taught Me

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message 1: by Shel (last edited Apr 06, 2009 07:53PM) (new)

Shel (shelbybower) | 54 comments I wrote this a little while ago, when I found out my grandmother is sick.

Things My Grandma Taught Me

Home and Family will always be there
When I was 5 we moved 4,000 miles away from home. A shopping bag from her house went with me. I would take a deep breath of it every night and then quickly close it up, so that I could go to bed with the smell of her house. I did that for a long time. My parents say I have a strange memory, because I remember holding the dark green phone receiver, twirling the curly wire around my fingers and pacing in the kitchen that was 4,000 miles away, telling her about it. She said that I would see her before I knew it, there was no reason to miss home because it would always be there, and that she had some special things for me when I got there. I'm sure the last part is what I focused on at 5 years old.

She said almost the same thing about family, when mine was going through the shredder. If my parents split, I was worried that my dad's parents wouldn't want to have anything to do with me and my mom. She hugged me and said, Family is family. I'll always be your grandma. I probably bawled from the sheer relief of knowing that at least something would remain the same. To this day my mom is still her daughter in law, even though my dad has been remarried for 15 years.

The joy of cooking for other people
My mother taught me how to cook things like tandoori chicken, tzatziki, and bulgogi - because we lived overseas and she wanted me to know how to cook something other than chicken fried steak.

My grandmother taught me how to make doughnuts, pie crust, pudding, every kind of pie imaginable (there are so many tricks with fruit pies), quick breads, yeast breads, how to can everything, how to make jam, how to make candy and perfectly fluffy biscuits -- even chicken fried steak. She taught me that feeding people isn't about the food, it's about nourishing someone and being together.

The most important part of my inheritance from her is not the sapphire and diamond ring she points to and says "You'll get this when I'm gone," nor is it the hooked rug we made together. It's the olive green 3x5 card holder, with a little gold flower stamped on the front and old Care Bear stickers I put there one summer -- the box that holds her recipe cards, and the years of accumulated knowledge contained in it. All written out by hand, corrected in pencil and spotted with butter, with measurements like "3 big wooden spoonfuls" because she never really measures anything. Her hand measures out tablespoons and teaspoons, and her wooden spoons measure out cups. She just pours liquids in and eyeballs them.

How to play cards like a card shark
She is archly competitive. She taught me how to play hearts, pinochle... and to this day I still don't get it, because she has this whole strategy behind it. It's complicated. When she loses a card game everyone pays. She also taught me how to deliver cards to the table with a snap of my wrist and the crack of a ring for emphasis.

That I could write things that touch people
I used to write these little stories and poems about her, about the town they lived in - probably the most idyllic anything I ever wrote. She keeps copies of the ones she likes best on the refrigerator. Every time I see her, she takes me over to the refrigerator and points out her favorite lines. She carries them with her in her luggage when she comes to visit. She pulls them out to show me -- in her usual style. No words, just points to the lines, her eyes a bit watery. I hug her to remind her that someone, somewhere, will remember her.


message 2: by [deleted user] (new)

You're wealthy.


message 3: by Bonita, scribbler (new)

Bonita (NMBonita) | 73 comments Mod
This is the kind of grandmother I fantasize about. Wise and talented, encouraging and loving.


message 4: by Shel (new)

Shel (shelbybower) | 54 comments She's a pretty great lady, I have to say. She has not had the easiest life but always has a smile and a hug for all of us grandkids.

She was recently diagnosed with dementia and early onset Alzheimer's. I wrote this a few days after finding out. I want to be sure to remember her as she is now.


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