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Wash Journal   Fairfield Ledger
Neighbors Growing Together | Apr 19, 2018

Grandmother's basket of goodies

Sep 17, 2014

By Mary Zachmeyer

One more time, I would like to write about my grandmother and a little about mothers. Mary’s Memos is coming to a close and so I dedicate this one to my grandmother and all moms and grandmas….

Grandmother’s ways weave within me as my kitchen sparkles. A few pin oak leaves cling to their branches like a baby to its mother. It’s the new millennium, but thoughts embrace a more simple world and play like a video in my mind.

The video begins when I go to live with my grandparents at age seven. Strict, German ways entwine everything they do. Pride carries them like a handle carries a basket. They aren’t the touchy-feely type of people.

Mother is always giving them a basket of goodies. She chatters and her heels tap on wooden floors as she gathers my clothes for the week and throws in a bag of lemon drops for Grandfather. She tucks two spools of thread for Grandmother that she bought for a nickel. She folds a remnant of everglaze cotton and lays it across the top of the basket. A jar of peanut butter makes the basket heavy, as Mother descends the steps to the car. We drive across town to the 1905 house. When she puts the basket on the table, Grandmother smiles shyly and says, “Mildred, you shouldn’t have.”

Grandmother only buys peanut butter by the pound, scooped up by the butcher with a huge aluminum paddle. He plops it into a thin cardboard carton, flips waxy paper on top that sticks to the paper just like the ingredient does to the roof of your mouth. She buys lard and meat the same way. The butcher knows her by name and they visit as she stuffs packages into the bottom of her home-made cloth bag. My grandparents never learned to drive a car. These are the days of bus tokens or walking to your destinations. So, Grandmother has to catch a bus home where Grandfather will meet her and carry the heavy bag up to the house.

The video continues on my grandparents’ 44th wedding anniversary. Mother and I pick out 44 items at the grocery store. We pull up to Grandmother’s and make several trips in and out, carrying the bags. Grandmother removes each item as though she is holding a baby sparrow. When all 44 items sit on her oilcloth-covered table, she sits down in a French blue wooden chair, crosses her arthritic ankles, takes a hankie out of her apron pocket and wipes away a tear.

Before Mother leaves to go home, Grandmother hands her a green wicker basket. In it is her weekly soup in a short, round jar. Nowadays I would call it “Clean out the refrigerator soup,” but Grandmother has a different name each week, like Bean soup or Vegetable or Barley. But it’s always the same and always delicious. She also includes coffee cake and home-made grape jam in her magical basket. Often she forgets to add salt to her dough. Mother and I giggle, then pile lots of her home-made grape jam on top.

Epilogue: Mothers, grandmothers, each different as life itself. We learn to share a bathroom with three teenagers. It’s like living in a thimble with one beautician, two barbers, two and a half people, no combs or brushes, and 17 half-used towels. We learn about shampooed heads and blackheads, three kinds of toothpaste and 11 kinds of toothbrushes. We yearn for five minutes alone with our favorite toothpaste.

We stuff their mouths, stuff their feet into Adidas, stuff unstudied books into pillow cases or bags and arms into jackets and bid them goodbye as they traipse off to school. Their echoes ring and their shadows still streak across the years and I wonder what my mornings would have been like without them. We anticipate with pride and joy the sounds of the afternoon, “Hi Mom. I’m home” and we give any credit we receive to our grandparents and our mother.

Have a memorable week as we learn about motherhood, fatherhood and kidhood, and survive them all. Until the final Mary’s Memos….

mlzachmeyer@hotmail.com

 

 

 

 

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