I am named after my mother's mother. She was Imogene Rebecca, and I am Emily Rebecca. I have her blue eyes. And her gentle way with cats. I mostly remember her in one of three places: 1.) in the kitchen with her apron on cooking something delicious, 2.) sitting in her recliner with her hands always busy holding a book or working on her latest needlepoint project, and 3.) working fast and furious at her sewing machine. I too love to cook and read. Sewing...well, I'm working on that one.
She had a very specific way of answering her phone by never saying "hello?" like most people do. In her singsong voice, she would simply pick up the receiver and say, "Mmmmrrrsss. Gant!" as if declaring to whomever was on the other line that she was definitely home. Once I would say, "Hi, Grandma!" she would instantly recognize it as my voice (even though I was one of her twelve grandchildren). She was a good listener, and she always made me feel very special.
Several years ago, she had to move from her home where she was living indepentantly to a retirement village. One day, my mom, aunt, cousins, and I were at her house helping her clean out her kitchen before she made the move. We went through her dishes, her pantry, her tupperware, and her cookbooks. The whole time she was always telling us to "take what we wanted." I came away from that day with an old yellow spiral notebook packed full of favorite family recipes mostly written down in her own slanted cursive handwriting.
*Sweet and Sour Pork
* Beef and Peppers
* Fried Rice
*Chicken Pot Pie
* Nuts and Bolts (her famous snack mix which she always gave out at Christmas)
And her sweet tooth is evident in recipes like:
* Double Layer Pumpkin Pie
* Raw Apple Cake with Warm Lemon Sauce
* Christmas Cookies (yet another holiday tradition)
* Chiffon Cake
* Aunt Bill's Brown Candy
I study her handwriting and can remember what her hand looked like as she held a pen. I can remember seeing the same swirly handwriting on all of my birthday cards. The notebook itself says a lot about her: simple, but sturdy. Careful, thoughtful, thorough. Full of ideas, plans, and love.
She passed away four and a half years ago. I still think about her and miss her. I wish she could have met Lucas. I wish I could stop by her house and sit on her couch and tell her about my day. I would love to examine her latest project, and ask her questions about motherhood (she did successfully raise six children!).
But I can take out her notebook, cook a favorite family recipe, and feel connected to her anytime I wish.