She had a remarkable spirit about her, that demanded your attention just by sharing the same oxygen in a room. Her laugh was the absolute best – boisterous, contagious and traveled straight to your heart. Flaming red hair, the best storyteller, full of wisdom but always with a few choice words. She stood as our rock and fearless leader, the place to turn when there wasn’t anywhere else to go, or even when there was. Everybody has one. She was ours and we called her Granny.
Sorting through the memories burned in my mind – First, I’m in her closet trying on her heels. She always caught me. As a small child if I went missing you could always find me near the shoes. She dressed sharp and heels were the finishing touch – and they ruined her feet is what I think she always said.
Her condo was orderly and put together. It contained all the things a “Granny’s” home should have. The velour autumn scenic couch, and the large buffet against the wall was where the plastic apples always lived. Good grief those apples have been through hell and back, but are still just as pretty. The drawing paper was inside the buffet drawers – fresh new legal pads, always ready for a masterpiece. I can see the round, brown table – It was near the bay window covered in white gauze curtains. Under that table is where we created the best Barbie showdowns and endless wardrobe changes. On Sundays she took care of her manicure at that table and that could have been my favorite part of us visiting. You must trim your cuticles, and always buff after filing.
I remember she was always put together so sharp. Her makeup routine was very serious and meticulous. When she came to visit, she had the hard suitcase, and the black rectangle makeup box. It lived in the bathroom during her stay and I would peek inside to see what all was in this magical beauty box she carried. It even had a distinct smell. Maybe it was the fragrance from the makeup, or maybe even the musty age of the box – it just smelled like Granny’s makeup box to me.
Her visits to us during the holidays were mostly full of creating the nostalgic recipes and sharing the techniques so one day we could handle it on our own. We still have not figured out how much sage goes in the dressing or how much miracle whip to put on the bread for a leftover turkey sandwich. Ever made yourself that same dang sandwich but strangely it tastes so much better when Mama makes it? Some things just can’t be recreated no matter how hard we try.
As the years did what they do to the ones we love, Granny’s duties became lighter and eventually we just asked her to make the pies and show up. I think that’s the year my mom, my sisters and I whipped the meringue all day but never got that stuff to rise. Granny burned the pies but sure enough she did show up with a few from Kroger. Oh, if you want the peaks on the meringue those eggs need to be room temperature and for heavens sake don’t use a plastic bowl.
She passed her antics down to all of us. We inherited the love for Days of our Lives with Hope, Bo and Stefano. That man must have died a hundred times or more but we kept watching anyway. We inherited two stepping and honky-tonking – all of us that came after her have danced a million miles at the Reo Palm Isle in Longview Texas. We might have a nickname as “Hound Dogs” but we can talk about that part later. Further than the antics, we also share diamonds from Aunt Sue’s ring, but most importantly she passed down a love that never knew boundaries.
Granny’s days have ended and my goodness I wish we’d kept more of her “stuff”. I don’t know where the makeup box landed but I wish I had it. Mom has always had the buffet, plastic apples, and – the fork.
Yes, a fork. It’s an old fork. It’s silver but tarnished and has a specific engraving that makes it Granny’s fork. We don’t serve a dish at Thanksgiving before stirring it with Granny’s fork. It means she is with us. When I see the fork it takes me back to the little girl hiding in the closet trying on heels. I see her huge smile and that laugh.
Sure, pass down the big heavy stuff like buffets, and furniture, or timeless items like plastic apples and quilts. Don’t overlook the little trinkets from the past that take you back to a special place and face.
Through the years of traveling with the fork, it lives with me now. This morning after breakfast, washing the fork took me back there and led me to share my thoughts here. What will your fork remind your tribe of?