Losing someone is so, so hard. The memories are there, but sometimes the tangible things are really nice too. After recently losing my grandmother, I acquired a few things that were hers or my grandfathers. I love to hold them…they almost have a warmth to them and they make me instantly smile. Nothing that I have is anything that I directly used with my grandparents, but it makes me think of them as the people they were.
It reminds me of how much my grandfather loved working with wood, and the beautiful creations he made. Tears sprung to my eyes when I came downstairs this morning and saw his cradle already in use. There are already requests for pillows and pads and a blanket to match.
This banjo was my grandfather’s. I had asked my grandma about it years ago. I remember being little and asking my grandma to ask my grandpa to play it. She always insisted that I ask myself, and I never did.
Last summer, I talked with my grandma at length about the Grassroots music fest we had been to. Talking about the wonderful bluegrass music and how much the kids loved it made her eyes shine and she told me stories of how she used to play the fiddle (which I never knew.) I wish that I had known their musical sides; sadly I never did. But having these beautiful items has inspired me to do some learning….
Lastly, and probably most importantly, are the kitchen memories. I can’t say that we used this particular rolling pin but it just conjures up memories of everything that went on in that kitchen. I remember pie crusts being ready made and sitting in the cupboards, just waiting to be filled. I remember picking elderberries on the corner of the yard to fill those shells. And late night batches of fudge, the recipe of which is permanently ingrained in my head….I think it was the first time anyone had ever trusted me in the kitchen. I felt like the fudge was my specialty, even though I probably wasn’t that good at it.
3 cups of sugar
1.5 cups milk
1/3 cup of cocoa
1 stick of butter
A generous pour of vanilla
Cook milk, sugar and cocoa over medium high heat in a heavy sauce pan. Cook until mixture reaches a ‘soft ball’ stage (when a tiny bit of the mixture is placed in cold water, you can scoop it up and make it into a soft ball that will hold it’s shape out of the water, but still squishes easily. I’ve never used a candy thermometer in my life. My brother and I would test that soft ball stage a hundred times so that we could eat it) It takes awhile to cook the fugde….it will boil all the way up in the pot and then back down again before it’s ready.
Then, add the stick of butter and the vanilla, remove from heat and get stirring. Stir and stir and stir. Find someone else to stir because your arm feels like it might fall off. Stir the mixture until it ‘loses it’s gloss’….it will go from shiny to matte. And it takes awhile. Pour it into a glass dish that was previously buttered using the wrapper from your stick of butter earlier. Watch people flock around. Eat it straight out of the pan until the fudge in the glass dish cools to a harden. Then get a big glass of water. My grandpa used to always say, “Look at you kids! Eat sugar and swill water!”
I feel so blessed to have all of these things in my life. I will smile fondly on them in rememberance everyday for the rest of my life.