Sitting in my grandmother’s kitchen, I could look out the window and watch the rabbits, squirrels, and quail families nibbling on the scraps of food that we had set outside for them. Grandmother was already hard at work whisking crepe batter or preparing pans of German pancakes for the oven. Orange sauce and vanilla waffle sauce were simmering on the stove, ready to pour as the family began to wander downstairs.
My grandparents made us feel like special guests every time we were in their home. Grandmother always watched from the kitchen window while we played in the yard. The smell of freshly cut wood brings back memories of helping Grandpa in his workshop. A sunshine filled garden sends me back in time to their strawberry patch. We would sit across from Grandmother and Grandpa at the kitchen island and eat those strawberries with cream within moments of bringing them into the kitchen.
Sitting at their counter, playing checkers or Shanghai rummy, there was always a dish of candy corn and roasted peanuts in between us. This was Grandmother’s favorite snack and I can’t eat a candy corn without a peanut alongside it to this day. She had a way of smiling craftily over the cards in her hand as she waited for us to take our turns. Having their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren visit were the events they planned their lives around.
At the end of every single visit, Grandmother prepared treat bags for each of us to open in the car on the way home. Those bags made the goodbyes a little less painful as we clutched them in our laps and gleefully opened them the moment our tires touched the paved road. Trail mix, Miniature Reese’s cups, Werther’s originals, Reese’s Pieces, Peeps for Easter, candy canes for Christmas, Ding Dongs, all of these things made an appearance one time or another. There might be homemade Rice Krispy treats on occasion, because Grandmother considered them a healthy treat. My mom’s one-time request for healthier treats resulted in the addition of chocolate or yogurt covered raisins and nuts. Grandmother loved to spoil us with sweets that were rarely seen in our childhood home. If we were leaving close to lunch time, there would be a sandwich and chips included as well. Grandmother’s love language was food and this was evident in every large or small event of our lives.
As a child, I took so much of what they created for granted. I enjoyed the fruits of their well-tended relationship without giving thought to the fact they dedicated their lives to each other and their families. As an adult, their love inspires me to make my own marriage as fulfilling as possible.
My family gathered this past weekend to remember her life. Death has a way of smoothing over the rougher years and bringing the happy times back into focus. We’ve laughed and cried and remembered more happy, joyous times in the past week that we have in years. I smile to think that my grandmother is no longer in pain and that she is reunited with the love of her life.