The month of May reminds me of my grandmother. She was born in May, and 94 years later died in May as well.
The memories I have of my Grandmother mostly include food. She was simply an amazing cook, and I don’t know the exact words to rightly describe how wonderful her food was. Let’s just say her secret ingredients were thankfulness and love, and with those in every dish, that should give you some idea how the food tasted.
I remember her spending most of her time in her kitchen. Even when she was a working woman (out of financial necessity — maybe in the 70’s?) she’d still wake hours early to bake and/or start a meal for later in the day, and she’d come home on her lunch hour to serve a meal to her beloved husband, who worked from home.
Every Sunday we enjoyed and were blessed with a huge family meal — over the river and through the woods we’d go — at Gram’s house. There were never any shortages of meats, vegetables, and desserts. It was her mission to provide at least one favorite item from each of those categories, for each family member. This was no small matter. Gram had only two sons, yet when both sons arrived with their wives and children on Sunday for the promptly-at-noon meal, we ended up with 14 people around the dining room table. It’s mind boggling to think of all the preparation that went into preparing all that food, every Sunday. It didn’t bother her to wake at 4 a.m. in order to accomplish this seemingly effortless task. Serving delicious food to her family, and cooking with love, was a blessing she never undervalued.
Years ago I wrote this poem about my grandmother. I know poems shouldn’t have explanations, yet I’d like to note a few things, so that this poem, and through this poem my grandmother, are clearly understood.
Her parents came from Poland, and spoke little or no English. She was forced to speak only English when she attended grade school, and the teachers changed her name, with the ridiculous intention of helping to make the socialization aspect of school easier for her.
As a young child I spent many hours and countless summer days at her house. Neighbors would come in and out often, and when one of those neighbors came in with a letter from the old country, my grandmother would translate it for those that couldn’t read Polish. I craved listening to those foreign sounds through the screen door, and am sad that this language was not passed down to my generation.
Polish food was a specialty of hers, as expected, and she also excelled in many American dishes, such as pork chops, spare ribs, and apple pie. Everything she made — everything — was simply delicious. Even her coffee was the best I’ve ever had.
They had times when she was newly married that they went without. Gram was creative with a cabbage. Though my father, her oldest son, never went hungry. She wouldn’t have allowed that. Whatever meat they could get was served to him, to make him big and strong and to never know hunger. When times changed and she had the resources to provide food for her family, she did so with such joy. It was a blessing she never took for granted.
Her beautiful given name
Changed to make it easier for the other school children
She ate cabbage while to her son she served meat
Years later the grandchildren never went hungry
Her small kitchen filled with food and love
The table overflowed with the gifts of plenty
Coming in to speak words the children didn’t recognize
Neighbors called her