Friday, August 15, 2008

Memories in the Kitchen

I had a memory so vivid and rich that I closed my eyes and I was there. I could smell browned beef and a myriad of other smells that told me a meal was about to be served. I heard heavy work boots on the vinyl floor as hungry men came in from the cold and shut the door to the garage behind them. The warmth of her kitchen and her welcoming embrace touched my heart once again. The chairs were shuffled about as I squeezed my way behind the small table in the kitchen and everyone found a place. She quickly put a parade of miss-matched Correl dishes mounded with food on the table, enough to feed an army, but still she asked, "Do you think there will be enough?" After a prayer of thankfulness was said, we dove into the delicious meal. The meat was tender and salty and there were mash potatoes and gravy too. She said something like, "I'm so glad you could come. I just thought a roast sounded good and I needed someone to share it with." She was always doing things like that.

The memory was gone as fast as is came and behind it I remembered other events in that kitchen. We spent so much time there as my husband would take a break from farm work to say "hello" and meet up in that place. A place that was always full of warmth and welcome. Where hot coffee was brewing in the winter with cookies or zwieback waiting on a Correl plate. In the summer she always had her instant ice tea ready, even though I never liked it because it wasn't "real" like my family made. Now I love that instant stuff. I got used to it and miss her pouring the non-sweetened powder into her green Tupperware pitcher with a splash of lemon juice from the fridge and a scoop of sugar from the drawer by the stove. It's those little things that were so distinctively "her" that I miss the most.

Again I remembered another memory from her kitchen, but this one not a good one. The time in March of 2006 when I brought Emma inside and set her on the floor to play; I asked how the dr. visit was and her youngest daughter, our aunt Joyce said, "You'd better tell them." Grandma always had a way of downplaying things and she said, "Oh, the doctors think I will die in 3 weeks." I watched her fidget with her cane, so full of life and love. I was stricken and terrified, but she was not. "Doctors, what do they know?" She said with a smile and a light laugh. She'd been a nurse for over 40 years. She knew exactly what the experts were talking about and she was aware of what came next. Instead of 3 weeks, we had 3 days. 3 hard, horrible days until she was gone. I miss her still. Every time I step into her kitchen and hope she will be there. I sit down there sometimes at that little table scrunched in the corner and remember how it was. It was so perfect. It seems sometimes that I don't realize how wonderful something is until it is gone. Today is just another day, but I hope I remember it as wonderful when it is over. I guess only I have control over that.

Emma and Grandma Peters, summer 2005


Cathy said...

I feel as if I was there with you. Beautiful words and beautiful memories for you all.

Grandma Sherri said...

Keep the memories alive for your girls, Sure wish they could have known their Great Grandma Peters, What a special lady

Anonymous said...

You have such an eloquent way with words. I have to say that when I spent summers on the farm, one of my favorite parts was eating the fresh cookies that Grandma Peters would always have in the kitchen. I haven't seen a picture of that little table in years. I'm glad you got to spend so much time with her. She was such a sweet person. I forgot about that sugar drawer too. Thanks for bringing back good memories.

Anonymous said...

thank-you for reminding us all of the wonderful mother we had, Janice

Sara said...

Thank you for sharing your memories. I don't think I ever heard how it all happened (Kevin and I were in Pennsylvania at the time). I've always only had one Grandma (my dad's mother passed away when he was 20), but I considered Grandma Peters to be my "adopted" second grandma. I too remember the iced tea (I never learned to like it though!=) and her famous zwieback. I also have many memories playing on the swing in her front yard or with some dolls in the house. Grandma Peters was always so kind, generous and caring. She always made me feel so welcome and like I was part of the Peters family.

Linds and Manda said...

People are so special and I'm so thankful that we can close our eyes and picture what has gone on in years past. What a blessing to have memories. Lindsay and I once got to wander into Grandma Peter's kitchen for some ice tea and a snack during one our visits out there. Even though it was for only a few moments I could tell that she was a special lady and a treasure to her family. What special memories you have to share with Emma and Mandy. I remember looking at pictures of me as a small child on the laps of people that passed away before I could really get to know them. Seeing those pictures still made me feel a special bond to them. It is evident by how you have put together this post that you will do a great job of passing on the memories to the girls.