Sunday, November 06, 2005

They talk about amazing grace, it meant something when I saw your face

It's November and I catch myself thinking of my beloved grandmother. If you'll recall, she's the teensy, saintly, dead one. Her birthday would often fall on Thanksgiving. She'd be 95 if she was still around, but she hasn't been for 10 years now. She loved this time of year. Toward the end of her life, when her health was failing, she tasked me with buying all the gifts she'd give for Christmas. She'd make a detailed list and mail it to me months in advance. I was already a grown man, at least twice her size, but she seemed to delight in calling me her little elf. I saved what turned out to be the last Christmas card she'd send me. In her wobbly scrawl, she wrote this: You hold a special place in my heart. I have always loved you and I always will, my little elf. The last picture I have of us together is from that Christmas. Just before the shot, I stuck a Santa hat on her. Her eyes brightened, she cocked her head a little, and smiled. Perfect. After she died, and we were going through her things, I was amazed at how little she had; how little she needed. I was trying to decide what to keep of hers. It might sound strange, but I took her mixing bowls. Every year for my birthday she would make, at my request, not a cake but instead the most incredible apple dumplings you'd ever hope to taste. Her pastry? It was heaven, guys. Sometimes I'd drop by her place and help her bake them. She used the same mixing bowls all those years. You might not look twice at them. They're kinda 50's gaudy with stylized sunflowers all over in orange and yellow. They're beautiful. I don't bake, but I somehow find excuses to get them out anyway.


Bodhi said...

That post truly moved me, and made me smile, Mikey.

My mums mum, as I have shared before, was actually 95 when she passed away. She too was an awesome cook, and her pastry was also divine. I never went without fresh apple and caramel pies (for ya nothern hempishere folk's, I believe you call the later butterscotch) year round when I visited.

But she also used to make absolutely incredible boiled christmas puddings each year. Rich and moist, with plenty of dried fruits and nuts. Covered in custard, it was sublime. All work done by hand, even the mixing (though we had bought her a mixmaster), and often still in the old wood fired oven she had. She started out making em before my living memory just for the family, but increasingly as word got out over the years she increasingly made them for others too, and never said no to a genuine request if they paid for the ingredients. In the end, even in her 90's, she was making over 25 of them a year. And believe me when I say thats a lot of work.

I think the biggest ingredient in all her cooking was love. A little like yours, methinks Mikey. Your love for her is obvious, and you are still keeping alive her memory and love of Christmas. I think you are still making her smile Mikey, and her words are as valid now as they were then, even from the beyond. You little elf you.

Michael said...

You're a sweet, sweet man, Bodhi. Thanks for sharing that. We're both lucky to have had women like those old broads in our lives.

Curtis said...

I cared for my Gran for several years until she died. That was another several years ago -- but I still miss her. We never really forget them, do we?

wingedman said...

That's so sweet honey, I wish I'd spent more time with my grandma too. We grew up in totally different eras and could barely even communicate in the same language but I was always her favourite grandkid :P I don't have anything of hers to remember by though--you're totally right in the sense that our grandmas never have much in the end because they have given it all to us, and don't need anything in return.

Michael said...

Curtis, as I said, it's been ten years for me, so yeah, never it would seem. I was away in school during the last years of her life, but I spent time with her when I could.
wingedman, you are right. I suppose it's a lesson we all learn eventually (with hope). It's not about things at all. Me personally? Not there yet. I'm all about the things.