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Saturday, July 27, 2013

Salted Cucumbers and Red Ripe Tomatoes




I don't recall the first time I met my grandmother, but I'm sure it was a precious moment smothered in energetic admiration as only she could deliver.  As a child, I lived on the assumption that all good grandmothers were seven feet tall with high check bones, strength of character and the mesmerizing ability to tell a story. She could turn an activity of daily living into a celebration of monumental portions.  I call them monumental because today those stories are guarded memories tucked away deep in my being. She was willful and a bit of a worry wart when it came to family matters.  I always enjoyed her tendency to fret without regard to the toll it must have taken on her because it prompted her to share what I believed at the time to be adult secrets.  She was also a woman worthy of respect. That realization, like many other truths about my grandmother, never occurred to me until I was grown and she was gone. What I did understand about her from the very beginning was that she loved me.  

On Saturdays the two of us made our weekly trip to the local A&P Supermarket to shop.  Our primary purpose was to buy groceries and I usually ended up with an "unexpected" treat, but the real excitement was in the walk to the bus stop.  We would put our Sunday clothes on a day early, lock arms, throw our heads back and march to the bus stop.  We walked with purpose and pride.  It was my grandmother who first convinced me of my own special beauty.  Those walks were our chance to practice the confidence and poise she claimed we deserved.  

My family moved back to Texas when I was about four-years old and those months away from my grandmother in Kentucky were torturous for me.  I cried for her nightly.  I still remember the day I was reunited with her after almost a year away.  We picked up right where we left off and reminisced about the old days like two old friends at a high school reunion.  I made my father promise never to take us back to Texas.  

When I started school, my grandmother lived in the apartment over top of ours.  After school, I was permitted to visit for one hour daily.  She had a desk in her bedroom and the first half of the hour was spent doing homework and discussing the events of the day.  She always prepared an after-school treat and we shared it during the second half of the hour while we watched a cartoon together on her black and white television that has since become quite famous - Spider Man.  The treat itself was always simple, usually salted cucumbers or red ripe tomatoes. When she could afford it, she would buy a melon or the occasional apple or orange. I have no idea how my grandmother made those salted cucumbers and red ripe tomatoes taste so scrumptious.  That is the magic of a grandparent.  

Grandparents play a unique role in the lives of their grandchildren. They generally represent stability in the face of hardship or change.  They are instrumental in handing down habits of the heart and faith.  They work as watchdogs and advocates.  Please feel free to celebrate your own grandparent by offering a comment.