Tag: grandma

Missing: One loving grandma and her famous chocolate chip cookies

“She opens her mouth with wisdom and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.” Proverbs 31:26

Grandma and I after a tough shuffleboard game. She is 90 in this picture.

Grandma and I after a tough shuffleboard game.

Some days my heart aches. I can feel it in my chest, pounding away, sending out desperate signals for warmth and friendship. But the crisp chill of fall is in the air, and these warm summer days are taking their final bows. The dark curtain closes, and just like that, a new scene is upon us. This one is not to my liking.

Last week, we said goodbye to our grandma. She was 91 and had led a rich and full life. I suppose we should be happy that she passed quickly. But she was the type of person that had such a strong light, it seemed she could easily live to be 100. It’s hard to believe she is no longer with us.

Grandpa, her husband who passed seven years before her, once said he wished he had a nickel for every chocolate chip cookie she ever made. By now, her descendants would be wealthy. The supply from her hands to our mouths seemed limitless.

Cyber granny

She loved her computer and traveled with her tablet.

Grandma on her tablet. She is 90 in this picture.

She loved her computer and tablet and soon learned how to make posts to Facebook and play “Words With Friends.” When I marveled at her abilities, she shrugged her shoulders and told me matter-of-factly that she had always been interested in computers.

That humble quality was attractive, perhaps because it is so rare in our modern world of social media selfies and one upmanship. It was common for her to take the worst seat at the table or sleep on the couch when we spent time at the family camp in Pennsylvania so that everyone else could have the beds.

Her home had that warm, comforting feeling that you might expect to feel at grandma’s house. The sheets on the beds were soft, the lazy boys sucked you in and kept you from getting up, the warm apple pie smell and rich hamburger and rice casserole or chicken potpies made you long to dig in.

You never went hungry at grandma’s house. Even the neighbor’s felt it. Every holiday, the bachelor next door would come fill his plate with the delicious food grandma prepared. Many of the neighbors came to her funeral and mourned her death and celebrated her life right alongside the family.

Grandma was a devout Lutheran and took her responsibilities seriously. When the pastor listed off all the many activities she led or was involved in, it took a full minute. The church lost a dependable and loving member the day she died.

My homemade birthday cake next to her birthday cake for Jesus.

My homemade birthday cake next to her birthday cake for Jesus.

I never knew my own grandparents, who passed away when I was two, but it was easy to adopt my husband’s grandma as my own. Although she had lots of grandkids, she showed me warmth and kindness and accepted me as a grandchild the moment I entered the family. She made me a homemade birthday cake every year, the pink frosting wishing me a happy birthday etched out in her scrawling grandma handwriting. Once when I was visiting, she brought out a special teacup she had gotten when she was first married and gave it to me as a keepsake. I was deeply touched.

She shared recipes with me, too. One summer we picked fresh rhubarb from her garden, and she showed me how to make her famous rhubarb jam. I have her chicken and noodle recipe, her peanut butter fudge and her recipe for a Jesus’s birthday cake, which she made every year and decorated with fresh evergreen and a crystal angel.

Grandma made me long for something more — to be better than I am. To be that light of goodness and compassion for my own family and to strangers. To welcome the outsiders in and share the warmth of grandma’s heart with them.

The world, and all of us, can use a few more grandmas like our grandma.

 

When grandma comes to visit

imageThe year is 1979. I am twelve.

In the backyard of my home, there is a black telephone attached to a pole. It looks like the kind you might find in an old phone booth. It rings nonstop. I look around hopefully, waiting for someone to answer it. No one does.

I think: Maybe, if I wait long enough it might stop ringing?

It does not. Instead the ringing persists, growing louder. After staring at the telephone a moment, I pick it up cautiously.

“Hello,” I say.

“Hi! Tell me about yourself,” an older woman speaks with enthusiasm.

“Who are you?” I ask.

“Never mind that. Just tell me all about yourself. What do you like to do for fun?”

“Who are you?” I say again, feeling stubborn. Why does this lady think I’ll answer her questions if I don’t even know her name.

“Hurry. I don’t have much time. Do you like school? Do you have a boyfriend? I want to know all about you.”

“Listen, lady,” I say,” annoyed. “I’m not answering any of your questions unless you tell me who you are.”

“It’s…it’s….,” she struggles, clearly torn. Eventually, she realizes that she has no other option if she wants to continue the conversation. “It’s grandma,” she finally sputters in my ear.

I stare at the phone dumbfounded. Both my grandmothers have been dead for years. I never knew them.

I hear a click, and the telephone is disconnected. I awaken to the sound of a dial tone in my ear.

When dreams speak
This is obviously a dream, but I can’t shake it. It was nothing like the nightmare I’d had the week before, which featured Bigfoot on a white horse. (It was the late 1970’s, remember. Bigfoot was all the rage:)

Could I have been speaking to the spirit of my long-dead grandmother? And if I was, what did she mean when she told me she didn’t have much time? Why would there be a time limit to our conversation? Wouldn’t a ghost have all the time in the world? And couldn’t she spy on me from the other side to know if I had a boyfriend or not?

So many questions, but for me, the dream remains elusive — staying just out of reach of my logical and enquiring mind. As much as I want to ignore it, I can’t. It disturbs me, forcing me to deal with questions that lack satisfying answers.

Despite all of our scientific advances, little is really known about our dreams. It is believed that most of us dream every night, although many people don’t recall or pay attention to them. That’s a shame because psychologists say that dreams can reveal many aspects of our lives. They can bring to light and offer solutions to our problems. They can help us understand and accept deep emotions — the kind that are so painful to contemplate, we bury them deep within our subconscious.

Maybe, this is why I find myself exploring dreams in the Mind Hackers series. Although the heroines would prefer to ignore them, like the ghost of my grandmother, their dreams haunt them — engaging them in compelling conversations and hinting at clues to mysteries that must be resolved along the way. Clues that cannot be unearthed in any other fashion.

Getting back to grandma
When I recount the strange dream to my parents the next morning at the breakfast table, they find it oddly entertaining.

“Now doesn’t that sound just like your mom,” my mother tells my father, giving him a strange look. She turns to me and adds, “Your grandma was always asking her granddaughters if they had a boyfriend. She loved soap operas and romance. If she were here right now, that’s exactly what she would ask you.”

Their acceptance lends validity to the visit.

Many years pass, and I dream of grandma again. This time, she hands me an antique movie camera and has me peer through the lens to see still photos strung together of other long-dead relatives. She has a message, too.

But that’s a story for another day…nothing like a good cliff hanger, right?

I’d like to think grandma with her love of soap operas would approve.


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