This is a special memory from my own childhood.
When I wrote about my parents getting a divorce when I was about 10 I talked about how unfair it was that the divorce meant I wouldn’t have much contact with my grandparents or my other relatives, something that I have always felt was so unfair. My cousin commented that my Grandma had really missed my sister and me. I had never thought about that.
It really got me thinking about my Grandma. She was very tall and had raised four boys on a farm. She was an amazing cook and was always sewing something. We would always have holidays at her house. She would cook the turkey or whatever and the four daughter-in-laws would bring the rest. The 10 grownups would sit at one long table and the 6-10 cousins, depending on which year, would all sit at card tables in Grandma’s kitchen. In the years after the divorce, I would miss all of this and I still do.
My mother became a Catholic when she was in nursing school but it wasn’t until we were in elementary school that she began going to church again and making us go, too. She really wasn’t very serious about her faith. She mostly used it to annoy my Dad and my Grandparents. I remember when we started going to catechism classes we were still in 1st and 2nd grade and going to public school. We always took our lunch and mom never remembered to pack tuna for us on Friday. I was so embarrassed when one of my classmates asked me why I was eating bologna on Friday. I was embarrassed by what my mom had done and that I hadn’t even remembered!
While I remember my Grandma very vividly, I don’t remember very many times when I actually got to spend time with her without having to compete with all my cousins. We were always there for holidays but I don’t remember ever spending time with her alone until the divorce. Daddy stayed with my Grandparents for a while and once a month I would go spend the weekend with him there. I really liked those weekends because my sister wasn’t even there. Just me, Dad and my Grandparents.
I had completely forgotten about that first weekend visit until I started thinking about Grandma. She may not have been Catholic but she thought it was important that she try to feed me fish on Friday so she had found a recipe for clam chowder. I remember going with her to the more expensive grocery store to get the clams. I had never had clam chowder before but if Grandma cooked it, Grandpa would be sure I ate it — like it or not! I loved my Grandpa but you definitely knew he was the boss. I had heard my Dad’s stories about when he and my uncles were boys. They would have to cut a switch from the weeping willow if they disobeyed. If they didn’t get a big enough one then Grandpa would go cut one himself. I don’t think Grandpa ever spanked any of us kids but we didn’t take any chances either! We behaved! Fortunately, I really liked the chowder, especially with the little oyster crackers she had gotten. I don’t think I had ever had those before either. I think she got them just for me.
Thinking back on all of that now really makes me realize how much my Grandma loved me. I also know that someday Amara will look back and remember all of the times I stocked the freezer with yogurt pops, the cupboards with fruit snacks and the bottom fridge drawer with cheese slices and know how much I love her.