A week behind on posting this… it’s me talking to you from the past!
Last week was a different kind of week for our little clan here in the great white North. My last little Grandmother and veteran of 93 trips around this pale yellow sun had a stroke a little over a month ago and a week ago last Friday she breathed her last. She died surrounded by family and after a long life well lived… we should all be so lucky.
This of course meant family and a funeral. My parents were here for her death and my brother Nate flew in from Ottawa with his family and we hit the pause button on life for a bit and focussed on each other and saying goodbye. Hitting the pause button on life seems harder these days and suspending and postponing and cancelling sets up an interesting next week, but that is a tomorrow me problem.
Take that tomorrow me.
Today me is focussed on Grandma and the family she helped build and it has been my habit to wax eulogetic (is that a word? It is now.) on this little blog and Grandma Brown has certainly earned that honour.
During the funeral each one of Grandma’s kid’s families presented a bit of a tribute and it fell to me to go last and I found myself summing up my Grandma with the image of a kitchen table. One of my last visits with Grandma was after her stroke and it was kind of a tough visit. The stroke left her half paralyzed and I couldn’t understand what she was saying and so I took it upon myself to tell stories. I talked about the farm and her huge garden and eating peas out of the shell. I talked about the fruit trees in her little orchard and crab apples and the old dog Ginger herding the turkeys and her Indian Runner Ducks. I talked about her kitchen and fresh baked buns at which point she interrupted me clear as day:
And pies. My Grandma did make delicious pies. It is the memory of that kitchen that lingers with me. My Grandmother’s kitchen always had something yummy cooling on the counter or in progress. In my memory there was always sun streaming in the window and a warm hug and sweet treats. It was always so important that we be cared for with food; that we be made to feel welcome around her table. This importance carried on with the move to town and a smaller kitchen there and then to Aspen ridge where grandma would make coffee and serve cookies in her little kitchenette and in the later years it was an insistence that we go down to the café in the lobby for something wrapped in cellophane from the counter.
Grandma cared for us by inviting us to her table and in that way she was the center of our family. When we drew together it was around her and it was usually around a table for a meal. Now I fear we won’t be invited to that dinner anymore. My Uncles and Aunts and Cousins on the Brown side are diverse and far flung… without a kitchen table to draw around will we draw together? I worry and I wonder.
Except that I don’t worry too much. I look around this family and I see kitchen tables everywhere. My family lives this legacy of welcome and care in all of our stories. My cousin Karen made Grandma’s famous jam jams for the funeral, my cousin Trish made portzelky (new year’s cookies) for the viewing, and me? Maybe it’s time to bake some pies and then invite someone over to eat them.
My Grandmother’s kitchen table is not gone. It is in my kitchen now and kitchens across this country as the generations of those who bore witness to that welcome and care carry it forward.
We miss you Grandma. Thank you for teaching me about the importance of pie.