Friday, September 2, 2011

Little Pieces

I thought of you today, as I slowly poured the pectin into the boiling sugar, remembering to stir constantly, just like you showed me.

We’re making grape jelly on Friday you’d announce with no concern to whether I may have had a prior engagement, like it was already planned and on the calendar, because well, you had said it and so it was.

So I showed up and there we stood, in silence watching the fruit dissolve into sticky sweetness over the heat as my new born babe slept peacefully in the next room. I felt so content in that moment, to finally be a mother and share that feeling with you, even if in silence. Your hands moved swiftly, unconsciously aware of how they danced over the pot and how gracefully you could whip up a batch of your famous jelly.

And as you chewed on your bottom lip in concentration, I’d bait you into conversation as I asked you some silly question about how you and Dandy had met or if you could go back and change one thing in your life what would it be?

You’d laugh and say, Oh Lord, that was years ago. How do expect me to remember?

But you did. And you always had an answer or a story to share.


Grief comes quietly and washes everything in a blur. My moments with you rush all at once and I’m five years old again, sitting at your breakfast table, drinking milk from a mason jar.

Do you remember the time you threatened to go outside and cut a switch if I didn’t start behaving and how it made me giggle inside wondering how in the world you were going to spank me with a light switch?

Or the time in college when I was curious about Halloween and just picked up the phone and asked you about how you celebrated the holiday when you were little. I think I already knew, but I just wanted to hear you tell me the stories about the cake-walk and the paper dresses again.

The morning when I showed up at your doorstep at 7 am to show you the new ring on my left hand, you looked me straight in the eyes and without a beat asked me, “Is this what you really want?” you studied me deep with those black eyes, and after a heavy pause, I answered “yes.” “Well then I’m happy for you” you said as you hugged me tight. I knew that you really meant it and I also knew that you were the only person who was going to ask me that.

There is a sudden drop inside when I realize that I will never again be able to call you when I can’t remember what kind of cheddar you use in your cheese straws.

How in a blink, that scrap of paper that you scrawled your corn pudding recipe on just became one of the most cherished documents that I own.

That I will never again open another birthday card to read Love, Caws and Dandy scrawled in the same handwriting at the bottom.

It isn’t the obvious things that I’m going to miss, but the little pieces of yourself that you shared with us over the years and are the most precious to us now that you are gone.


(my grandparents meeting Anna Cate for the first time)

By example, you taught us that there is much joy to be found in serving your family.

That it is not what you have, but what you do with what you have for others, whether it be sharing your resources, your talent, or your time.

Though you did not always have a quiet spirit, your acts of service were often done in quietly and were gentle and unassuming.

And though it may have been taken for granted at the time, each lesson you gave us in homemaking – the time you spent -- teaching us how to can vegetables, how to knit a blanket, or how to reach out to those in need are precious to us now.

I will miss seeing your hands working swiftly in your lap knitting a prayer shawl or stirring a pot on the stove. They were strong and soft and brought comfort and security to those they served.

Every time I make a batch of your jelly, mend a hem, or plant spring bulbs, you will be there with me. You have given your family a heritage that will be passed down to our own children and grandchildren.

We are eternally grateful for the precious gift the Lord gave us in you and the luxury of time in which to enjoy you and learn from your wisdom.