Since my grandmother passed I’ve been trying to remember specific things about growing up around her as well as some of my favorite memories.
The thing I’ve realized is that many of my favorite childhood memories, running free and playing with my cousins happened around her than actually with her. And then I realized that maybe the role she played as mother to 8 and grandmother to 17 was to provide the opportunities for growth, success and play and to step back and let it happen.
She was the kind of grandma who was always there to give us red kool-aid when we were thirsty or toast if we were hungry. She made delicious food out of simple ingredients and kept an organized and tidy house. Every time I ate a meal there I savored every bite.
I often remember her in the kitchen doing dishes. I think she was always doing the dishes. I can see the jars of dried beans and peas lining her counter and how it smelled in the kitchen. The radio was always on and I can remember where she hid the good snacks.
Many Sundays were spent in their living room with legos on the green shag carpet. Sometimes my cousins and I would gather in one of the ladybug filled bedrooms and create a “show” to put on for the adults. Other times we would play basketball or hide under the big pine behind the house.
Right before they cut down their cherry tree I remember picking the bright red fruits and watching Grandma make them into a pie. I think that was my first farm to table experience;)
When I was a child my dad would tell me my bedtime stories about the shenanigans he and his siblings got into when they were children. Once someone ran through a glass door once and another time my Uncle Bob fell out of tree and a stick went into the corner of his eye.. There were stories of pedaling their bikes fast to get past the mean neighbor dogs and sneaking out of the house as teenagers. . Recently I learned my dad had encephalitis as a kid (how this was never mentioned before, I don’t know) and almost died. When he was on the mend he was allowed to drink chocolate milk, a rare treat. My Uncle John said he would sit there and stir it very slowly to rub it in that he got to drink something delicious. As an only child I always thought growing up there sounded so fun and adventurous, a little dangerous too.
I don’t remember my grandparents as the most affectionate people. There are only a handful of times that I remember even hugging them. However the way they treated us with respect and care showed the great love they had for their great big family. As I look back on the time spent there I felt very free and happy. They allowed us to test our own limitations and make good decisions (or bad ones, like the time I broke my arm jumping off the swing).
I hope to employ much of her approach to life and parenting to my own existence here.
Thank you Grandma Michel for your infinite kindness and wisdom (and noodles). We will all miss you immensely.