Sunday, 12 February 2012
Apple Butter at Grandma's
The last time I saw my grandmother alive was twenty one years ago. No longer the sturdy red haired woman I knew. She was now rail thin, sitting slumped on her sofa watching Young and the Restless. Her once perfectly combed hair was now twisting this way and that upon her head, briefly reminding me of one of those troll dolls with the brightly colored hair that stood on end. A stroke had left this once outspoken woman barely able to speak an intelligible word. I wept inside.
Twenty one years ago I was eighteen. Today I am thirty nine.
But, this morning, I was ten and she was as strong as ever and telling me stories over breakfast. I moved the buttermilk biscuits that I had generously smeared with the homemade apple butter my friend Steph gave me for Christmas to the side of my plate. I wanted to save them for last. I wanted to savor them. I wanted to remember.
I watched the melting butter run down the sides of my biscuit as I finished my eggs and sipped my coffee. Finally, I was ready. It seemed as I took the first bite that I was transported back to that little country kitchen. I felt the tingle of cinnamon as the smooth puree of apples silked its way across my tongue. I was ten. I had homemade biscuits and her homemade apple butter. I had my mug of milk, just enough coffee added to make me feel like one of the grown ups as I ate my breakfast. My legs dangled over the side of my chair swinging cheerily in response to the sunshine glittering through her lace curtains, mocking the curls of cigarette smoke that snaked through the beams of light.
I closed my eyes, recalling her voice as she told one of her tall tales. Her boisterous laugh as I ooed and ahhed at her yarns. How we were certainly related to anyone named Hayes in the encyclopedia, that Jesse James was some long lost cousin, that we were all descendants of greatness. No, we weren't always rednecks and drunkards. And, while our own lives were unremarkable, we had tales to tell of glories that were never really ours.
This morning I was ten. This morning was indescribable joy. All because someone gave me apple butter for Christmas.