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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: The Family Reunion (06/05/08)

TITLE: Close Proximity
By Noreen Ophoff


Grandpa and Mrs. Grandpa set their padded blue calico print arm chairs next to each other at the round oak table in the kitchen. After 56 years of marriage, they were still caught holding hands. Eight or ten other chairs could be squeezed in too for close proximity, laughter and just plain fun.

Every family shared some special dish for the potluck. Uncle Leona and Aunt Morrie Anderson always brought a huge yellow pyrex bowl full of potato salad, complete with radish slices, hard-boiled eggs and diced cucumber. Auntie made her own sauce out of buttermilk and a hint of dill. Yummy! She cut thick slices, what she called “grandmother slices”, of homemade black walnut quick bread, we children liked to spread with butter, leaving a little extra dab of butter on the edge, where we wiped off the knife.

It was first come first served at the kitchen table, causing several folks to plunk down in the coveted seats and refuse to help in any way at all. Card tables were put up, extending the regular diningroom table into the livingroom, but sitting in there wasn’t nearly as much fun as watching the antics of our goofy grandparents. Gram was known to pull out funny hats from the cupboard behind her, in the middle of lunch she might change from a straw hat with flowers, to a hard hat her son, Kyle, brought her from a construction site. How we’d laugh to see her calmly munching on a clover-leaf roll, with her soft white curls peeking out from under a funny hat.

Grandpa liked to whistle, and when he didn’t have a mouth full of sliced brown-sugar glazed ham, roasted chicken with raspberry sauce, and succulent baked beans with bacon, he’d start off with “Turkey In The Straw” and end with “Beautiful Dreamer”. Sometimes he’d play “Name That Tune”, and we kids and grown-ups would have to try to recognize the song with him only whistling two or three notes. If we were stumped, he’d add another note or two to help us along. I think he knew every song ever written. “Crazy” was one of his favorites, and “Let Kings Aspire To Royal Thrones” was my all time favorite. Not content to just hear the notes, some of us were known for bursting into song. Grandma didn’t believe in singing at the table so she’d give a stern look at the offender, causing everyone to laugh, because she would have a ridiculous looking hat perched on her head.

Aunt Leigh wore house dresses, as long as I can remember. Four buttons at the top, gathered at the waist, sometimes with a cloth belt, full skirt. They weren’t very attractive, but she said they were comfortable. When I was in high school, my sister and I pooled our babysitting money to surprise her with a pants suit in pale green, with a print floral blouse. When she opened her birthday present, she cried, saying, “I’ve never had anything so beautiful in all my life.” She went and put it right on, and modeled for all our families to see. Every time we saw her after that, she made it a point to wear that outfit. One day, at the village hardware store, my Dad and I ran into her, and she was wearing that pants suit, it warmed my heart that she really liked it.

Uncle George always contributed thick cream and fresh strawberries, or ripe peaches to make home-made ice cream for our gatherings. Aunt Suze made crepes to hold the treat, rolled into cone shapes. They enforced the rule of eating the drippy dessert outside. Have you ever tried to play frozen tag while eating an ice cream cone? How we would laugh, carefully. We learned early not to lean over in hilarity, the ice cream might jump out, then Jasper, Grandma’s little terrier came running and hopping gobbling it up so quickly.

The clans of Anderson, Pickalli, Dort, Rasmuz, Cokelia, and Roote are forever bond by roots of love strengthened around an oaken table, and a rambling house filled with love.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Patty Wysong06/13/08
What wonderful grandparents and memories you have! I can just see your grandmother with a hard hat on!