Saturday, 12 May 2012

Memories of Gramma


Recently a friend posted about letting go of an item he had been hanging on to since his sisters passing and I started thinking about things and memories and love and heritage.

I understand the need to hold on to and feel the items left behind by someone we loved.  Being near them makes their existence more tangible (and their absence more bearable) and maybe we feel as if part of their spirit lives within the item.  
And who am I to say? perhaps it does.

My sister is a hanger on of things.  She'll pull out a book and say,  'this was one of moms books, I remember her reading it'.  
Or her husbands Nana's big enamel bowl - the one she soaked her feet in.
Items of that nature -useless things really other than being 'memory triggers'.

I didn't end up with things from family members who have passed on.  
Except for this.


My Gramma's coffee cup.

This cup never gets used.  It is too small and has the worst handle ever.
I don't think anyone else wanted it.

There was only one of these cups, too plain and ugly to have been a gift I think.
This is why I surmise that she pocketed it when she was in the Bridge Cafe on one of her monthly outings with the other women from the farming area where we lived.  
She would go out with freshly combed hair that had never been curled, wearing a very sensible and  plain hat pulled down on her head and her not so stylish dark cataract glasses. 
 Her skirts were hand sewn. 
Technology scared her so consequently no electricity, telephones or plumbing.


Her life as a farmers wife was, like so many prairie women, filled with hard work.

She had nine children and two husbands - she had these husbands at different times -  not at the same time (just needed to clarify that). 

She always found some time to spend with the large hoard of grandchildren who, every year for Christmas, got the same thing (but in different sizes) from the Army Navy Surplus catalogue.

 In the summers after swimming in the river we would run to gramma's house where fresh baked, and still too warm, brown bread was waiting on the table with a big jar of honey for us to wolf down.  Rice pudding, creamy, sweet and made everyday would be sitting on the back of the wood stove just in case the loaf of bread hadn't filled us up.

Winters had us sitting by the wood stove, warming our feet after tobogganing down the river bank, eating apple pie.

In  the spring, when the ice on the river had melted,  we would fish from the river banks. She would come out with her big cast iron frying pan, a jam can full of lard and some sliced potatoes.  She taught us how to clean and gut the fish  while the potatoes were frying in the pan over the fire she had shown us how to make. When the potatoes were crispy and tender the fish was then fried to a flaky, white slab of deliciousness, topped with a hearty shake of salt, and eaten like we had been denied food for days.
All of us thinking that this was the best food we had ever eaten and giving not one thought to the slime and fish scales on our icy cold hands.

Memories of her are triggered each time I see or smell a food she made for us, or taught us how to make.

Christmas Eve - vinetarta (we are a family of Icelandic immigrants)
Birthdays - fried steak and new potatoes from the garden with sweet corn on the cob.
First snow storm of the season - bacon and eggs cooked on her wood stove.
Hot Summer days -  potato salad and cold sliced ham with the just-canned vinegary smell of dill pickles and sweet relish glistening in shiny jars ready for winter meals.

There were always kids playing hide and seek in the corn rows, aunts and older cousins in the kitchen gossiping and making food,  uncles and older boys off in the corner planning next years crops and talking about the newest farm equipment.

And dogs and cats everywhere.

The smell in the air? One of delicious food and nearby cattle.

Last Sunday morning in my quiet house Son #2 asked if we could make bannock.

 Ahh Gramma, there you are again.




Happy Mothers Day everyone!

5 comments:

Debra She Who Seeks said...

Sounds like she was a wonderful cook, filling her family with delicious food and love. Happy Mother's Day to you!

Joanne said...

Our ordinary childhoods were so full. Enjoy your weekend.

Razmataz said...

This made me laugh because my first thought was the cup was from a restaurant....although we think we are busier now, I think women of the past had harder work.

OneCraftyFox said...

This is absolutely beautiful and tugs at my heartstrings.

Funny, isn't it, how it just takes a scent to trigger a memory...

Wishing you a wonderful Mothers Day weekend.

xoxo Diana

Busy Bee Suz said...

Oh, I love this.
All the gifts your gramma gave you....and I bet she didn't realize what an impact she made. All those memories....love them.
Do you have a photo of her??? She sounds like such a strong and rich (in personality) woman!
Happy belated Mother's day to you Joy!