Sunday, March 06, 2011

home, home again

It seems like it was so long ago, almost like it wasn't real. The best times are when you're unaware of the reality of life, when it's all playing games and skinned knees. It's these days that we all miss, the naivete of not knowing how hard life is.

Often, the days were full of playing games, but we could go one place, where we would always be spoiled and always feel as though it were a fairyland.

Granny lived next door, she said naughty words in Dutch that we didn't know, made wonderful cakes, and was a bit hard of hearing, though she definitely picked up more than we thought. To explain her, you must understand a few things. First of all, she had struggled with so many things in life, it had never come easy and yet she didn't expect it to. Not only that, but she definitely expected others to follow her lead on that. To work hard, was given, to see her love was easy. She did things the way people had for many years, and taught many of us to follow. She had a love for food, and a lot of what she had to teach involved her love for food. She not only loved food, but she loved all parts of food. The making of food, the serving, and the enjoyment of eating it with family and friends. She canned a lot of foods. Several of the fruits we ate throughout the winter were made by her very hands. She taught me how to pit peaches with ease and skill, she also slaved during the hottest time of the year in an even hotter kitchen for hours upon hours, helping with not only the fruits but also the ever treasured boysenberry jam. I can see her now, sitting for her break, which while canning is rare, drinking her hot coffee is that sweltering room. She also had a love for coffee that has been passed down through the generations as many of us enjoy our morning brew, but when she was in that chair next to the stove in the dining room, she may as well have been Queen Wilhelmina herself. She was highly respected and loved, especially in that chair.

She had one other spot that is remembered equally to her "throne". He seat on the front porch with her small paring knife in hand. She would send us to the crab apple tree so as to fetch them for her and we would wait to see how ours "turned out". She would slice it down the middle with her paring knife and look at it, very expressively she'd loudly say, "bacci" (I'm aware that is not the correct way to spell it but i spelled it the way she said it, since I can't seem to find how to actually spell it) and toss it on the lawn. We would laugh and laugh, and do it over and over again. I can see an especially unusual California day. It was barely dripping out, but the Central Valley fog hung low and kept it chilly out. It was early in the season and we were bored, we knew we could go over to Granny's house and she would find a way to entertain us, she sat down in her chair and with our coats on we would run back and forth from the crab apple tree and wait to hand her our crab apple so as to see her reaction.

The day I remember most, unfortunately, is the day that I attended her funeral. This seems morbid, even as I write it, but it may have been a bit of a sense of relief. I had never known her husband, my great grandfather, but I have heard many time that he is much like my own grandfather. She missed him, that was obvious, but she also had struggled so many times in life that everyone wanted her to have peace. I realize now, that she had more personal issues, that we as children had no idea about. It may have been guilt from many many years ago, a lost sense of self, a longing for the "old" country, but as the years went on there was a nagging sense that things were not all right though through it all she continued to be a source of comfort and light. It was my first funeral that I can recall, and many followed. She was my caregiver, my friend, and our "queen" Anne.