My grandmother, Abigail, was born in 1898. She was such a tiny baby that her father's wedding ring fit around her wrist. Being so small and worried about her health, they kept her in the warming tray of an oven during the early days of her life.
She may have been small, but she was mighty. Her father-in-law called her a "snippet" whenever she stood up to him. I like to think my granddaughters have inherited some of this backbone--it comes in handy, especially for women.
After my grandfather died, Abby came to live with us. We were the grateful beneficiaries of her fabulous baking. She made bread, rolls, tea biscuits, pies, squares and cookies. No wonder I have a sweet tooth. She kept a bag of candy in her apron pockets. Mints, usually. White with spearmint centers or the large round pink ones. Or chicken bones—a Maritime candy, pink on the outside with chocolate centers. I look for these candies all the time, but they're not easy to find anymore.
I miss her, and I miss her baking. All I have to do is duplicate one of her recipes, say, blueberry cake with caramel sauce, and tears come to my eyes. It’s as though she’s standing in the kitchen, next to me.
She taught me how to stack tea cups (a lost art, I’m sure). She tried to teach me how to make bread, but I wasn’t very good at it. She’d ‘tsk’ at the state of the kitchen whenever I endeavored to make anything. Clean up as you go, she’d insist.
Every morning she’d put on her ‘work’ clothes—pants, top, apron, to do her baking. She ate weird things for lunch, I remember. Fried cheese or peas on toast. These are things nobody ate even back then.
Afternoons were for soap operas; they were her secret passion. Whenever the love scene went on too long, she'd tsk a lot, even though it was only kissing. Once her shows were over, she’d go upstairs and have a bath—in late afternoon—and then get dressed into ‘nice’ clothes for dinner.
She didn’t eat very much, despite the baking. If we had roast chicken, she would eat the wing. My father loved to tease her about that.
I miss you, Grammy. Happy Mother's Day.