scientists say that it’s our sense of smell that can bring back our most poignant memories, but that’s usually never the case for me. usually it’s a song or a sound or just the look of something–maybe a combination of the two. it happens out of the blue, too, and almost always at the wrong time. and if the memory is connected to someone you’ve lost, it can really bring you to your knees.
we’re up in western pee-ay right now. we came here suddenly over the weekend. holly’s grandma–she’s 80 and still works full-time; she can actually run circles around people half her age. hell, she can run circles around us–had a bad fall at work. we jumped in the car as soon as we heard and made the five hour drive up. she’s ok, thank goodness, but pretty badly bruised on her face and hands. we’ve been staying with her while her parents are on their annual vacation (they go away just one week a year), and i’m so glad we’re here–she’s needed some tlc.
there’s so many special things about grandmothers. too many to count, really. if you lucked out and got a really great one–and had the privilege of spending many years w/her–you know exactly what i’m talking about. i’ve written about my grandmother quite a lot on this blog b/c she was, and still is, even almost a decade after her death, such an important part of my life. since i lost her in august 2000, i’ve sort of been…collecting grandmothers. holly’s grandma is now my grandma, too, and i take care of her as gently as i would my own.
i love spending time w/joanne (holly’s grandma), but sometimes it’s hard b/c it makes me miss my own so badly. usually the feeling creeps up on me. i got a huge, whopping dose of that sunday night while i was making myself a snack. i made toast. it was white bread (something we don’t usually keep in our house), similar to what my own grandma used to keep in her apartment. on one slice i put peanut butter, on the other, i can’t believe it’s not butter. ha. so cute, i know. my grandma didn’t keep that in the house. heck, i don’t even know if it was around back then. what she did have was tub margarine.
i used to go to her house on saturday nights when i was growing up. back when there was the saturday night lineup on nbc or abc or whatever it was. there was 227 and amen and empty nest–but the shining star of the night was the golden girls. omg how we loved the golden girls. hell if i could understand half the jokes back then (all sexual; most involving blanche or sophia calling blanche a slut or rose not getting that sophia was calling blanche a slut). i didn’t care about the jokes, tho. i just loved being by her side. we would sip sugar-free swiss miss and eat white toast with margarine. i just loved it. looking back, i see that those were some of the happiest moments of my childhood.
i’m standing in holly’s grandma’s kitchen sunday night and i start spreading the butter spread on the toast. and something cracked in me. it was like…the looks of the toast, white bread with just a little golden brown, and the sound of the butter knife scraping against it. it was like i was whooshed back 20+ years in my own grandmother’s kitchen in new jersey. i was 10 years old again and my grandmother was in the living room waiting for me as our shows–our “programs,” as she would call them–were just about to start. it was just a split second but it split me in two and i stood in the kitchen and just started quietly crying and couldn’t stop. it just made me realize how something so small–just the look of a piece of toast and the sound of a butter knife scraping against it–can make you miss someone so badly it feels like your heart’s going to break in two.
it is so hard losing people. so so hard. i just hope that my grandmother knows how much i still miss her and how thankful i am that i had her in my life the 20 years that i did. i’m sorry this post is kind of a downer but it’s what i’ve been feeling and i try to write things here that a lot of ppl will identify with, happy or sad. if you’d like to share your thoughts on all this, pls do. you know i love it when you guys chime in. xo.
I’m so glad that you have the memories that you have and I’m so sorry that they are so sad right now. Many your grandma stories remind me of my own.
And as always your writing is beautiful hilarious and bittersweet.
I hope Holly’s grandmother gets better soon.
my favorite go-to meal when all else fails is toast — 1 piece with some PB and 1 piece with ICBINB. Always.
For me, though, my grandma comes on the wafting smells of ground black pepper (lots of it) on elbow macaroni. She used to give it to me when I was sick.
Thanks so much for helping me remember her.
thanks for your comments, guys. i’m glad i helped bring back some memories. and ann, obviously you and i are SSM (snack soul mates 😉 )
We should all be loved this much by our grandchildren!