Grandma became a big part of our lives when Mom and Dad separated. Most of my memories of my Grandma are about her cooking. I don’t ever remember a day that passed when she wasn’t in the kitchen baking up something. The smells from that oven were so sweet and tempting. Cooking was as natural to her as breathing in and out for the rest of us.
She made everything “from scratch”—Pies, bread, coffee cakes, and noodles. Most of the time, she never even measured the flour. A pinch of this or a dash of that. I never quite mastered that art. Most of her recipes were in her head, not written down or in a cookbook.
I really wanted to learn to cook, but as often as I watched her growing up, I know that I will never hold a candle to her. In fact, she really didn’t want me to learn how to cook. When I became old enough, she would shoo me away. As if I would steal her secrets and she would become secondary in the household. She never should have worried. I am in awe of her to this day.
Some of my favorites were peach pie, custard pie and fried apple fritters. My mouth still waters when I think of them. I’ve never tasted any better, no matter where I go.
Cooking was her talent and she didn’t want anyone to outdo her. As if any of us could. She not only did the cooking and cleaning, she watched us kids (there were four of us) while my mother worked. I don’t know how any of us would have turned out if she wasn’t there. She was the rock we all leaned on.
Grandma always wore a dress and a clean apron and some sensible black shoes. Her wavy silver hair was always just so, and she always applied lipstick, powder and rouge to her cheeks. She always had the things she needed in her apron pockets. Oh, the things she kept there. You never knew when a hatpin would suddenly appear and burst a balloon when we got too rowdy playing in the house.
One of the things she allowed herself for relaxation was her soap operas on TV. Her “stories” as she called them. I know that we disrupted her soap operas when we came flying in the door after school, but that was her signal to turn off the TV. Her break was over and she started cooking supper. Usually we began to do our homework or went outside to play. She always yelled to us to be sure to be home before your Mother gets home, which we knew was at five o’clock sharp.
Sometimes we could talk her into playing a game with us. We played a game called “button, button, who’s got the button?” She would put a button in her hand, and then act like she was going to pass it to you, but most of the time she tricked you.
Other times she would put a sheet over two chairs and let us pretend it was a tent. We would play games under there for hours.
But the thing I will always love the most is how she always was there for us, no matter what. There will never be anyone who can take her place. Thanks for being there, Grandma.