Good Morning, awesome Moxie-Dude readers!
Today’s post was supposed to be about writing. But since life often throws things onto our paths that sometimes divert our intentions, I’ve decided to write a reflective piece about one of the most significant people in my life: my grandmother.
Her name was Jenny Andrei and she passed away yesterday. She was 98.
The last time I saw grandma – in person – was about 12 years ago. And although I’ve often thought about how I miss our summer visits, I now consider the many miles between her home province of Saskatchewan and mine of Quebec a blessing. My memories of her will forever be of a vibrant, lucid woman who loved to laugh.
She was funny.
She was insightful.
She was a wonderful cook.
So wonderful and opposite of me, in fact, that one of my cousins teasingly hints that I’m probably adopted.
The perogies, the cabbage rolls, the platchinta, the bread buns – all comfort foods so often enjoyed thanks to my grandmother’s Romanian cuisine.
I can remember standing on a chair as a child in her kitchen as she meticulously placed perfectly shaped perogies on her kitchen table; like marching soldiers, so organized and uniform, each one accounted for. Her hands, silently speaking a tale of farm life with much hard labour, worked diligently as she told her stories and continued her cooking as though it was the easiest thing in the world to do.
Years later, when I was in my early 20s I tried to emulate the tradition of cooking the delicacies of my Romanian culture – “just like grandma”. It had taken me over five hours but I had succeeded in making a batch of my own perogies. And just like grandma, I kept a running tally of my day’s achievement. I made 123 perogies today, I had told her over the phone. My pride, I’m sure, beamed through the phone line to which grandma laughed good-naturedly and told me that she could fill three freezers for the winter in that time frame. Keep at it, she had said.
Clearly practice does indeed make perfect. And of course patience and a gifted ability in the kitchen, of which I was not bestowed. And so, to satisfy my craving for home-made perogies, I’ve learned to do what every other modern-day woman does: stop in at M & M’s on my way home from work. Naturally, they’re never as good as grandma’s.
Born in 1915, grandma in many ways was ahead of her time and one of the most open-minded people I’ve ever known. I remember a crass yet funny rhyme she told me when Rock Hudson passed away in 1985. I think about the advice she gave my brother when he felt caught between his teenage affections for two different girls in his class.
Grandma always had a funny story. Her kitchen always smelled of baking bread. Her hugs were always tight.
In today’s world there’s a lot of talk about “engagement” but having lived during a time before TV, radio and especially the Internet, grandma was a true source of engagement. I remember so many evenings of playing cards, sharing stories and laughing out loud until the tears rolled down our cheeks.
“I love you, grandma,” my last words to her after every conversation.
And she always responded the same, “I love you. I love you. I love you’s all.”
98 years is a long, weary time to spend on this earth. I don’t know if it’s luck, courage or a positive attitude that kept grandma so healthy for so long – or possibly a combination of all three and even maybe a few behind-the-scene purposes. But we all have our time and the cycle of life and death is relentless.
I love you grandma. Always.