11/18/13

Grandma

“Autumn Passage” by Elizabeth Alexander

On suffering, which is real.

On the mouth that never closes,

the air that dries the mouth.

On the miraculous dying body,

its greens and purples.

On the beauty of hair itself.

On the dazzling toddler:

"Like eggplant," he says,

when you say "Vegetable,"

"Chrysanthemum" to "Flower."

On his grandmother's suffering, larger

than vanished skyscrapers,

September zucchini,

other things too big. For her glory

that goes along with it,

glory of grown children's vigil,

communal fealty, glory

of the body that operates

even as it falls apart, the body

that can no longer even make fever

but nonetheless burns

florid and bright and magnificent

as it dims, as it shrinks,

as it turns to something else.


Before I post another recipe and/or semi-ridiculous cooking video, I have to tell you that my grandma passed away last week. If you’re a regular reader, you’ll know that she was just here visiting me, Matt, and Mavis. She’d just been in our kitchen, grinding fennel seeds with a mortar and pestle and making a yogurt pie/parfait.

I referred to her as 95-years-old, but the truth is that I was rounding up. She would have been 95 on December 31st, which just goes to show you that even though I understood that she was very old, that her heart hadn’t been getting enough oxygen for a long time, that she could go at any time and it wouldn’t exactly be a shock, I still hadn’t really digested that information.

She was here for six days and during that time, I started writing an essay tentatively titled “29 weeks and 94 years” about what it was like to simultaneously take care of myself, this baby I'm carrying, and Grandma. And perhaps sometime soon I’ll finish that essay. Her visit was a unique experience that I’m especially grateful for. But as for now, I’m still processing the loss and am not quite ready to write about it. Mostly, I keep thinking about how much a part of this blog she’s been. If you type in “grandma” over there in the little search bar at your right, you will get more than a dozen posts in which she’s mentioned and/or appears. From the essay I wrote about spending four days in her kitchen making holiday cookies to the video in which I call her up in search of some kitchen tips to her Belgian waffles, Grandma has certainly left her mark here. And I’m sure she’ll continue to.

Last Monday is when it happened, and as a sort of tribute, I made a crepe cake. It’s a recipe I’ve been working on to include in my book, but as it’s a labor intensive one, I’d been putting off attempting it again. But on Monday afternoon, I put on some music and got to work. I mixed the batter, flipped crepe after crepe, macerated strawberries, whipped cream, assembled it into one tower, and made a chocolate sauce to cover it all. It was an afternoon well spent.

Grandma would have loved it.
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47 comments:

  1. She will be greatly missed. xoxo

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  2. I am so sorry for your loss. I've always loved reading about her on your blog and I hope you know that the picture of her you've painted for us, your readers, through your stories and your videos have always been funny, quirky and inspiring. Hugs and kisses from Toronto.

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  3. One of the strangest things about this age of the internet that we're living in is how involved we've become in the lives of strangers. Reading this made me tear up, for you and the hurt I imagine you are feeling, and for the loss of your grandmother, who I feel like I've come to know through your brilliantly articulated posts. My grandfather passed away in March and I remember how bewildering that time was, and how hard. I appreciate you sharing your grandma with us.

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  4. She seemed like a real sweetheart and it's clear that she loved you lots. So sorry for your loss.

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  5. I'm saddened to hear about your grandma's passing, Amelia. WIshing you all the best during this time.

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  6. I'm so sad to hear the news, Amelia. I hope you and your family can relive and honor all the love you shared. Rainbows forever.

    The last two of my grandparents that passed away went suddenly--the first of the two, without my even knowing (in fact, no one told me for over a week); the second--one day, we were all discussing where she was going to live, the next, she was gone.

    I don't have any words; thank you for sharing with us.

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  7. I am terribly sorry to hear this. Knowing and loving a grandparent is one of the greatest honors in life. Wishing you and your family peace during this time.

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  8. Amelia, I am so sorry. Thank you for sharing your grandma with us. I hope we get to see your essay some time soon.

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  9. Oh, Amelia, so sorry to hear of her passing and your family's loss. My favorite Grandma moment was her art direction of the fish tacos. (Team Onion in the Slaw, always.) Looking forward to your essay.

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  10. We are very fortunate to have known Grandma. She enriched our lives and will be greatly missed.

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  11. It's sad, but how lucky that you had a visit like that right before the death.

    In this hyper-rushed culture, grandmas and grampas are the unsung heroes.

    Thank you for singing.

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  12. oh amelia, i can't believe this! to think i just saw you this weekend and had no idea! so glad we got to get to know so much of lovely grandma here. i feel enriched to have known a few of her stories.

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  13. I always liked it when she appeared on the blog. I'm sorry Amelia.

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  14. Oh Amelia… I am so sorry to hear about your grandma passing. I send you my love and very big hug. xo

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  15. Oh Amelia - after following your blog for so many years I too have felt the presence of your grandma here. I am so glad she spent time with you recently and that you through whatever you were feeling into that crepe cake. I hope it was amazing! I love the picture too btw. Now I'm off to re-watch the video of grandmas advise...

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  16. I'm a total stranger to you, but I feel I knew your grandma a bit thanks to your blog, and I have loved knowing her. What a lovely tribute.

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  17. So sorry for your loss. Your video of baking pizzelle with your grandma is what lead me to your blog. Having loved & lost both of my own sweet grandmas, your videos with yours’ really touched me. Your relationship with Grandma seemed so full of love, patience & humor, both on your part and on your Grandma’s part.
    Thank you for sharing her with us.

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  18. Oh, I am so sorry. I was so charmed by her in the recent video and her honest reactions to things. I am sorry for your mom too, who was so delightfully thrilled to hear your happy pregnancy news. You all obviously had such a warm relationship and it is wonderful that you have these videos to share with your baby and to revisit yourself. I am sorry for your loss.

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  19. From the Pittsburgh-to-Willmington-and-back mayo to the hand-written lady locks recipe, I've loved grandma Ruth from the start. She will be dearly missed. I'm so sorry for your loss <3

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  20. Amelia, I am so sorry for your loss. You and your family will be in my thoughts and prayers.

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  21. My favorite grandma story is the mayonnaise. Thanks for sharing her with us.

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  22. Thank you for sharing. Loved the visits in the kitchen. hugs

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  23. She was the sweetest lady with the cutest grandma voice I've ever heard. The mayonnaise story is my favorite too. I'm sorry she's gone, but what a full life she had! xoxo

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  24. Oh no! I am so very sorry. I am in tears reading this. Following your blog and watching every video (sometimes more than once) I feel like I knew her. You were so blessed to have her in your life and she will carry on and be remembered in your cooking and story telling. I hope you feel peace soon. You will see her again one day. Take care & God bless, Debbie Sprague

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  25. Dear Amelia, I loved her because of your videos, she was so sweet and nice. I am very sorry that you lost her. I will think about you and keep her in my heart.
    Love, Cecile

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  26. You're lucky to have spent various moments with your Grandma. I haven't gotten the chance to cook something with my grandparents since they really live far from us. Anyway, I'm really sorry for your loss. I'm pretty sure your Grandma is happy wherever she is now. And I'm sure appreciated the care and love that you showed her all this time. :)

    Roland Todd @ HomeCareSugarLand.com

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  27. I'm so so sorry for your loss, thank you so much for letting us get to know a small part of her, every post with her made me laugh :) Amazing that you got to spend the time you did with her before she left.

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  28. Thank you all so much!! Your responses are so sweet. Hope Grandma sees each one. xoxo

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  29. Oh Amelia. I'll be thinking of you and Matt your family, and missing grandma's presence on these pages.

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  30. I'm so sorry. I loved every story you shared about her. I'll miss her.

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  31. I'm so sorry for your loss. I loved seeing your Grandma on the videos. How nice that you'll be able to look back on those and relive the moments. God bless you all.

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  32. I'm so sorry for your loss. I recently lost my grandma and can sympathize her loss being a shock even with the knowledge that it could happen at anytime. Unfortunately, it always feels like we don't have enough time with the one's we love. When you posted the waffle story it made me cry because it reminded me so much of recipes passed down from my own grandmother. The memories though sometimes hard are so wonderful to have and with time they get easier and more enjoyable. My sincerest condolences to you and your family.

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  33. I'm very sorry for your loss Amelia. Your grandma seemed like a wonderful person. I loved your videos with her. May she rest in peace.
    All the best to you and your family.

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  34. I'm very sorry. How lovely you had some time with her so recently and that she was such a big part of your life. Thinking of you and your family,
    Molly

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  35. Amelia: I'm very sorry about your grandma. I loved watching her in the fish tacos video and reading about her in other posts on your blog. I hope her recipes/suggestions continue to appear here and there on Bon Appetempt.

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  36. So so sorry!! My grandma who I was quiet close to passed while I was pregnant with my daughter. it was hard to be positive because you're growing this little person inside of you but mourn this other person that was so apart of your life. the crepe cake making sounds perfect!

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  37. That's terribly sad. I'm so sorry for your family's loss. Based on her appearances on your website, she seemed to be warm, funny, and one kick-ass grandma. My grandparents all passed away before I was out of middle school so I've always been envious of people that got to spend time with their grandparents into adulthood. Lucky you.

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  38. Amelia, my deepest condolences. Grandmas in general are just amazing, and yours sounds particularly wonderful. That poem was devastating and perfect. It so vividly conveys the wild and crazy way that close-up loss feels. Virtual hugs to you and your family.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks so much, Sharon. And unrelatedly, I've been meaning to email you to congratulate you on your big pie-contest win! I'm beyond impressed!!

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  39. Amelia, I'm sorry. Your Grandma has been a great source of food inspiration and humor for us! Thank you for sharing her with your readers.

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  40. Thank you for sharing your Grandma with all of us. She brought even more charm to this (already very charming) blog and I'm sure she made all of us readers giggle and smile tremendously.

    So sorry for your lost.

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  41. I am very sorry for your loss.

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  42. I'm so sorry to hear this, Amelia! She was delightful and you've clearly inherited it. All the best. xo

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  43. Oh honey, I'm so sorry. I can't believe she was just there, being her adorable self in your yogurt parfait video! I think it's lovely that you two were so close and hope you can hold your many memories of her close, close. Life begins, life ends...it's all part of the cycle, but still so hard to say goodbye. xoxo

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  44. Oh Amelia. I just watched the yogurt pie video and I'm left choked up. You have some wonderful video mementos. I'm really sorry to hear this news. I don't know if it's MY pregnancy hormones but thinking about you making the crepe cake puts a lump in my throat! I hope you're well. I will miss her presence here.

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  45. Dear Amelia, so sorry, love to you and your family.
    Becky, Ella & Rob x

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Thanks for your thoughts!