Although I try to keep my blog mostly food focused, I want to talk a little bit about something personal today.

My maternal grandmother passed away yesterday.  She was quite a woman – she was a registered nurse, raised 4 daughters, and bowled and golfed most of her life, until she physically wasn’t able to anymore.  My mother and her sister made her last months as comfortable and peaceful as possible, and I hope to some day be half the daughter that my mother was to her mother. 

We spent mother’s day at her apartment this year and enjoyed Alton’s overnight cinnamon rolls.  I’m so lucky that both of my grandmothers were at our wedding.  So many of my good memories of my grandmother can be related to food.  Some of the things I learned from Mary Lou:

  • I knew not to mess with her before her coffee in the morning (I learned this as a young child – she was only half joking). 
  • If you can see through the coffee, it’s not strong enough (hence my love for Starbucks).
  • She made the perfect meat sauce for spaghetti – it wasn’t too thick or too watery, and just enough spice to make it slightly spicy – but spicy enough that my late grandfather’s bald head would sweat.
  • Desserts can become traditions.  Boston Creme Pies, apple turnovers, and pineapple tortes will forever remind me of my grandmother.
  • Hers was the only stuffing I would eat on Thanksgiving.  I’m sure it had something to do with the copious amounts of butter, but no one else’s stuffing ever came close.
  • I was told I wasn’t allowed to be a cheerleader.  I was supposed to play the sports, not cheer for them.
  • She bought me my very own bowling ball and bowling shoes, which enabled me to join the bowling team in highschool (pretty much as a joke) – but I ended up getting a varsity letter and tri-athlete award. :)
  • Her towels were always pristinely white and smelled of fabric softener.  I loved taking showers at her house and using her special aloe body lotion.
  • We’d spend Saturday nights at her house in the summers, playing in the backyard until it got dark and then playing cards in the kitchen.  The hutch cupboard in the dining room was always stocked with candy or chocolates – hidden in her silver codiment tray – and we pretended like she didn’t know that we knew it was there.
  • All the cousins would meet at her house after trick-or-treating ended on Halloween, and we’d have donuts.  There could never be too many sweet treats.

Rest in peace, Mary Lou.  Thank you for all your love, lessons, and treats over the years.

Hold on to what is good
even if it is a handful of earth.
Hold on to what you believe
even if it is a tree which stands by itself.
Hold on to what you must do
even if it is a long way from here.
Hold on to life even when
it is easier letting go.
Hold on to my hand even when
I have gone away from you.

Nancy Wood – 1974

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