Early morning, a cup of espresso in hand, I sat in the breakfast nook, looking out over the lawn and thinking of my Grandmamma. She’d have been 100 years old today and embarrassed as all get out to be made a fuss over.
As I looked over my shoulder to my granite topped counters and stainless steel appliances I remembered that…
My Grandmamma always said that the kitchen was the heart of her home. She’d chuckle, recalling funny things Daddy and Uncle Henry did when they were boys. While we made rhubarb pies she’d regale me with stories of when they were naughty - or wayward - as she would put it.
When they were real little they had to sit in the corner chair by the refrigerator to “train some sense into their sculls.” Grandmamma would go on about the business of being a farm wife and peel potatoes or snap green beans while they pondered their crimes. Grandmamma rarely used the switch but the threat of it kept them on that chair until she said they were done. Once the training was over she’d wrap them in her large bosomed hug, kiss them and call them varmints.
Weekdays after school they’d race each other in from the bus just to see what gooey, sweet delight she had waiting for them. When Grandpapa would come in from the fields he would stop by her standing at the sink, tap her on the bottom, twirl her, hug her and give her a big kiss. All the while she acted as if she was mortified over his undignified behavior. Her satisfied grin said otherwise.
Mind you, she never told me that. Daddy spilled the beans while we were at my cousin Sarah Jo’s wedding. Daddy wasn’t much accustomed to drinking. It took only one glass of champagne to loosen his lips and he told me all kinds of stories. Some of which he made me promise never to tell Grandmamma. But, I’m thinking she knew a thing or two about what young men did while their Mama wasn’t looking.
Summer time, the kitchen was a way-stop for boys on great adventures. She’d wrap sandwiches and ginger cookies in a scarf. Daddy would hang his on the end of his fishing pole and pretend he was a hobo just jumped from the train going west to catch some blue gill in the Nashua River. When the afternoon shadows were long they would head back home – smelling like fish - and beaming.
Grandmamma would make a big to-do about the fish they caught for supper. When they were real young she would clean them while they watched. Later, they took on the job themselves becoming experts at cleaning just about any fish they caught - even slippery, ornery catfish.
Saturday was bath day. Grandpapa would haul in the large iron washtub. Grandmamma would heat water on the stove and bring the lye soap out of the cabinet. No fancy shampoos or cream rinse. Daddy went first because he was the youngest. Then, Uncle Henry, Grandmamma and Grandpapa. I always kind of felt sorry for him to have to bath in used water but I guess he didn’t see it that way.
Sunday, after church, she would bring out some kind of special delicacy that was too good for the other days. Daddy said he was always amazed at what she could do with so little. When he looked back he realized that they were poor but he never knew it. Grandmamma had a way of making something beautiful out of not too much at all.
Then there was Thanksgiving, Christmas, Independence Day and every day in between. All with some kind of a memory associated with something that made your mouth water. Grandmamma poured love through her rough, callused fingertips.
I came out of my reverie when Jason kissed my cheek on his way out the door.
“I’ll eat breakfast at the gym. Don’t hold dinner for me. I’ve got a late meeting.”
Behind him was Parker, holding a toaster Danish in one hand and a smart phone in the other, his backpack slung over one shoulder.
“Coach is buying pizza for us after practice to celebrate our win. I’ll be home late.”
I looked around at my large, beautiful kitchen, everything perfectly in place. So much room and every tool you could imagine to create our own kitchen memories.
The only warmth in the room was the memories of my Grandmamma.
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