Happy Mother's Day to all the moms, new moms, grandmoms, soon-to-be moms, step-moms, surrogate, substitute and stand-in moms. Happy "Celebrate Your Mom Day." Happy "Remember your Mom Day."
Today, I am a mother of one. I am a stepmother of three. I am a grandmother of seven (no steps listed here!). Today, I am more a grandmother than a mother. Today, I will celebrate my grandmothers.
I am the youngest of four children and the daughter of the second youngest of nine children. By the time I came along, my grandmothers looked like grandmothers should. I remember my two grandmother's pretty well - one made sugar sandwiches and one made sugar cookies.
Grandma Kelly lived in a house attached to ours. Our kitchens connected. It sounds odd today, but it didn't seem so then. The houses were built that way. My uncle, a carpenter, designed a small ranch to be attached to our colonial. Connected at the kitchen, we had easy access to grandma's house. The door was never closed. Grandma was respectful of our family's privacy and only came through the doorway on Sundays or holidays. We were not respectful of Grandma's privacy. We freely walked through the doorway whenever we wanted. I wish I had a connected doorway my grandchildren could walk through to my kitchen whenever they wanted.
I liked to visit Grandma after school. She made sugar sandwiches for me. She took "oleo-margarine" and spread it lightly on white bread. The bread wasn't Wonderbread, but probably the generic brand from the then-Loblaw's grocery store. Grandma would then cut the open faced sandwich into four quarters, never triangles. She would dip each quarter, butter-side down, into the speckled green sugar bowl that always sat next to its always empty matched creamer; the bowl was never moved out onto the table for the "dip," it stayed next to the wall, centered on the enamel-topped kitchen table. I can picture Grandma's fingers, bowed a bit by arthritis, gently tapping the side of the bowl to let loose the excess sugar. Satisfied there was just the right amount, she would place the sweet slice directly onto her granddaughter's "patty."
I never had to wash my hands. I never had to say please or thank you. I never had to clean up. I just had to show up. I wish I had a connected doorway I could walk through to my grandma's kitchen whenever I wanted.
I don't' ever remember eating anything in Grandmas kitchen except for the sugar sandwiches. She was more comfortable with a sonnet than a souffl. I think I get my writing gene from Grandma.
My paternal grandmother was called "Mema" and she made sugar cookies, the fat kind. Mema lived across town but came to visit on special occasions and we visited her on special occasions.
Her father had owned a bakery and Mema could cook. My mom spoke, a bit envious I'm sure, of the skillfulness and dexterity of her mother-in-law's hands.
"She never measured, just piled the flour, put a hole in the center and added one ingredient at a time without even looking down. She would gather the dough and roll it out and nothing ever stuck to the table !''
I don't know if I actually ever saw Mema make the cookies, but I can see the cookies clearly in my mind. As I picture them, 3- to 4-inches in diameter, over an inch tall, browned butter brown, my mouth's memory recalls the "just right" sweetness of these lighter-than -air wonders. I wet my lips. I wish I had Mema's hands.
Mema's small bungalow smelled of good things, meals past and the meal to come. A true "Kitchen Mama," she was comfortable in her kitchen. I think I get my food genes from Mema.
I'm not exactly sure about the gene pool, but I know that each grandmother gave me a taste of life that, today, is an important part of who I am.
Happy Mother's Day!
I have a role now that I think becomes me. I am a grandmother.