My earliest memory of Grandma was in her kitchen, of course. I was three years old, dogging her steps from stove to cupboard to cookie jar. It was during one of our frequent visits to Grandma and Grandpa’s house in Sodus, blazing a path from Detroit through rain and snow for holidays and vacations.
Lunch was finished, the dishes washed and the leftovers stashed, but Grandma was still wiping counters and wrapping pies. I chased her around the small kitchen until she finally wiped her hands and sat in a wooden chair beside the phone. The second that happened, I climbed onto her lap and we’d sit quietly through the 20-minute twilight between the cleanup of one meal and the launch of the next. Grandma’s lap was an oasis of comfort, love and peace, capable of quieting even this most talkative of three-year-olds.
And through the years, as smaller children vied for Grandma’s lap, I still returned to her, nattering on about my classes, my travels, my wedding, my career. Heaven knows what she made of it all.
When I speak of my Grandpa, I love to list his many accomplishments, from fishing to winemaking. I often speak of what he did, but for Grandma, accomplished as she was in her own right, it is different. I speak of what she was, to me and to everyone: strong, loving, ever-patient.
Since the birth of my son last year, Grandma has become a role model for me as I grapple with the challenges of home and family. My sister calls Grandma a perfect example in this regard, and I agree. I could never meet Grandma’s standards, so I halve them, and halve them again, and still feel I’ve accomplished great things. And if someday some small child follows me around a kitchen, waiting for me to sit down, and climbs onto my lap in search of love and peace and hope, I will have met those standards.