As I think back about my grandmother I remember her as so silly and funny, always had better food than we did in the fridge- it seemed, spunky, practical, could cook the best yellow cake with chocolate frosting I have ever eaten, and even though she was not perfect, she did her best and welcomed people as best she could with what she had. She loved red geraniums, carnations, the color red, clowns, cake, and Tom Jones. She never wore a pair of pants in her life and always wore sleeveless dresses.
I went to live with my grandmother in the Jr. High School years and did not know that we didn’t have much money until years later. I would have a piece of bread and a piece of cheese for breakfast, we ate a lot of cabbage and potatoes and not very much meat at all if any. We were happy.
You see my grandmother was a Depression Era baby and she knew how to make ends meet with hardly anything. She bore 7 children, 5 girls and 2 boys. She baked 12 loaves of bread a day. My grandfather was involved with engineering the cable spans for the Golden Gate Bridge and didn’t make a ton of money. I never knew him because he died before I was born. My grandmother stayed home with the 7 kids and I know from the stories, it was hard but the spirit in which she raised them in was amazing. My grandmother told me to always everyday say, “Thank the Lord for the abundance that is mine” even if you don’t hardly have anything and “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” I didn’t grow up in a Christian home and my grandmother was the only Christian influence I had. Those two sayings stuck with me years later as I did come to know God in a personal way and got more of a glimpse of what she meant about being thankful and knowing where your strength comes from. I know she prayed for me.
She was special, she was kind, she was funny and everyone liked her. She managed a huge apartment complex and cleaned the apartments herself and worked hard. She was a widow at that time and was not afraid to work using the basic education that she had. She was street smart, she was intuitive – she could tell if someone was a bad seed the moment she opened the door to let them in and she was always right. She ate onion and cottage cheese sandwiches, pig’s feet, gefilte fish, little wieners in a can, baby food pudding, and other things that I didn’t even know what they were at the time. She percolated coffee in a percolator till it was just right and she had the timing down pat. I loved her for loving me and am so thankful for her for taking me in during those years. She taught me how to make hamburger stew with mostly all vegetables and a little meat and introduced me to rhutabagas that even now when I smell them cooking I think of her. She would make the best sweet and sour cabbage and potatoes in any shape or fashion – potato pancakes, potato salad, baked potatoes – you get the idea. She always said, “If you don’t have much money, a 10lb bag of potatoes can go a long way”. Those are things she learned the hard way, through the Depression Era.
The grandchildren (17 of them) called her, “Nanny”. She died in 1990 and I miss her but I know that she had a saving faith in God and I will see her again one day – I can’t wait!. I grow red geraniums every year in my yard to remind me of her.
I hope to be a grandmother, which I am now, that tells the stories, passes on the recipes, giggles endlessly about crazy things, prays for them and with them, and loves her grandkids unconditionally. There is a special relationship between grandkids and grandparents, they seem to be the ones you can talk to, the ones who don’t jump to too many conclusions or get freaked out about to much because they have been around the block a few times. They are constant, they are loving, and there is none like them.
Talk soon, tlc