Archive | November, 2013

No One Did It Like Grandma – A Blog of Thanks

28 Nov

There are pieces of my grandmother’s spirit throughout my house. Her wedding ring that still hasn’t decided which finger of mine to call home. Her copy of March of the Penguins that I borrowed and never returned. The recipe card hook she sneakily asked me about (to confirm I didn’t own one) and then surprised me with at Christmas. And now the gift I made for her kitchen resides in mine.

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The passing of my grandma in May was harder than I thought it would be. She was old and her health had been declining for a while, but the speed with which she went from an independently living senior citizen to no longer with us was startling. It didn’t help that our last real conversation had been a quarrel over something stupid. Still, I was able to see her before she passed to tell her that I loved her. Not that I needed to; I know she already knew.

Like I said, losing my grandma was hard, and I think of her often. I think of her especially when I am cooking. Grandma K. had many talents, but none so obvious and admired as her skills in the kitchen. That woman could cook. Anything. She knew which spice would complement an otherwise bland meal, what you could use as a substitute for butter powdered sugar salt anything, how much to make to serve x number of people. Far better than any cook book, I turned to her with countless kitchen queries and she came through for me every time.

For this year’s Thanksgiving feast I have been assigned to make an orange jello – one of my grandma’s specialties. It’s bittersweet to be staring at her recipe. It’s not one that she wrote in her own spidery cursive; I remember distinctly getting this recipe from her over the phone. Still, there’s no denying the words are hers when the recipe says to “let set a little bit.” As a novice in the kitchen there is nothing more irritating than unspecified quantities in a recipe, but that’s just how she worked. She didn’t need to measure quantities or times, she had a natural ability (and years of practice) to know when enough was enough.

I have a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. Among the many blessings I am thankful for is the ability to say that I am her granddaughter. This is the first major holiday that I’ll be celebrating without her. It’s going to be weird, and I am going to miss her. So much. Despite this, I am comforted to know that her spirit will be with me in that jello and with every delectable bite.

Happy Thanksgiving.

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Thoughts of a Helpless Onlooker

21 Nov

It’s been my experience in life that there’s nothing harder than seeing a problem and being unable to fix it. And yes, while this does apply to something as trivial as why there is sometimes no sound when I try to use my Blu-Ray player, I’m really speaking about the bigger problems in life. It’s of course painful when the problem applies to me and my own life, but the pain of helplessness is amplified tenfold when the problem I seek to fix belongs to a loved one. I am a planner and a fixer by nature. I see something broken and it’s my instinct to put it back together, but there are times in life when the situation is out of my control. I can’t take away someone else’s pain. I can’t relieve someone else’s suffering, and I can’t right the wrongs of others.

I hate nothing more than having idle hands. Sitting by while I watch someone make decisions that I disagree with. Twiddling my thumbs while people I care about make choices in life that I know are not the smart ones. Wishing that I could show people how I see them, instead of how they see themselves. While I would love to pull a Monica and be in charge of making decisions for others, life doesn’t work that way. Free will is a strangely beautiful thing. The options we have are limitless, and the ultimate decision ours to make, even when that decision is self-destructive.

How do you convince someone to change their mind when their mind is already made-up? It’s one thing when they’re not aware of the negative effects of their behavior, but what if they know and just don’t care? How can I persuade someone to see the positive when their vision has been clouded by grey? The sad but true answer to these questions is that I can’t. I can talk until I’m blue in the face, match every con with a pro and in many situations it won’t make a difference. The decision has been made, locked in and sealed somewhere I can’t reach. Like watching a storm roll in, there is literally nothing I can do to stop it. All I can do is try to prepare for the worst, pray the damage is minimal, and be there to clean up the aftermath.

If you’re reading this, you know who you are. I think I’ve said all there is to say already, so I’ll remind you one more time: I love you.