I helped on laundry day, pushing the clothes through the wringer, into the rinse tub and into the bluing tub went the whites. I believe my first cooking experience was at Grandma's. The egg I fried was far from perfect. The hardened yolk, framed with a crispy, browned edged egg white, just stared at me from the plate. But, I got to cook it myself. That's what counted.
Grandma always kept chickens and ducks. We learned to feed them and to keep their water pans filled with fresh water. We always knew when one of her hens had hatched some eggs or when Grandma had been to the feed store for a new batch of chicks. A box would be sitting in the living room by her chair, rigged with a light bulb for heat. There the little ones would stay until they were old enough to care for themselves outside. That is another practice I adopted from Grandma. Caring for the fuzzy yellow chicks indoors until they were ready to go outside.
Grandma has always been a lover of beautiful things. She always kept her yard edged with flower beds. Bricks, standing on end leaning on each other would outline those flower beds.We spent many a summer afternoon straightening bricks and helping weed between the multi-colored beauties. I was always fondest of the Fuchsias that hung in the wooden pots around the patio. And the Martha Washington Geraniums that grew along the fence.
My favorite memories and those in which I would gladly live over again, if possible, are the eves of holidays, especially Thanksgiving. Although Grandma's house was small, that's where the family gathered at holiday time. Some of us kids would spend the night before Thanksgiving with Grandma. We would sit up very late just to watch Grandma put the turkey into the oven. Always a large bird, overstuffed with cornbread stuffing. After careful preparation into the oven it went and into the feather bed we would go. Waking up to that aroma of baking turkey, climbing up out of the feather mattress is something to remember.The family would soon start drifting in, filling the little house to the corners. It didn't phase Grandma. She followed through the day, a whip in one hand and a cookie in the other.
I regret that my girls couldn't have spent more time with this remarkable person before we moved away. I'm sure most of their shyness would be melted away layer by layer without them realizing it. They would have been exposed to much more than they are at home. Going to Grandma's is a little like entering the world of Auntie Mame without the frills.
At seventy seven and with failing eyesight she still charms every kid in the neighborhood. The little one come to Grandma Ada's for cookies and coffee. The older ones come to get a booster shot of confidence. I'm hoping when my turn comes I can put aside the role of mother and step in to the role of friend, fun-maker and teacher. The role of a very special person like my grandmother.