I’ve made my share of loaves of bread in 2014 and I can say that my motivation for baking, in general, came not only because I have the most awesome boyfriend that I love to bake for, but primarily from my grandmother.
My grandma, on my mother’s side, taught me how to knead dough and how to lick out the brownie batter bowl. Of course she taught me other things too, but I only spent a week or two per year with her and so the most memorable times I have are those of us baking in the kitchen together. She made the best home-made cinnamon rolls, peanut butter balls, cookies, brittle, and crepes. She was also a great cook, but when I think of grandma’s house I always think of the sweet things. Grandma has always been one to make sure everyone was well fed…and when I say well fed, I really mean over fed. She wanted everyone fat and happy. She and my papa (her husband) grew up during The Great Depression so it’s no wonder we always had full bellies at their house.
My papa and grandma have been married for 65 years. This is something that I’ve never heard of anywhere else and something I hope to have…although at my age now I’d have to live to be REALLY old to be married to someone that long. So instead of aiming for a 65 year long marriage, I hope to have the love that they share until the end of my days. If you saw my grandparents together, and knew nothing else about them, you would feel the love that they share and walk away in your own direction with a smile on your face. You would feel a little warmer and a little happier, even if just for a little bit of time. They are soul mates and have stood by each other through 6.5 decades! And the incredible part is that papa asked grandma to marry her on the second date.
I’m lucky to call both of them family because they are not only an inspiration in terms of love, but very strong willed people in general. My grandmother has been battling with cancer for about 15 years. She’s always won and I’ve always been grateful, but in January of 2013 she was diagnosed with cancer yet again and in addition was also told she had Alzheimer’s, which is an extremely rare diagnosis. She was given 6-8 months maximum to live.
Today is May 25, 2014 and my grandmother is still with us today. It’s certainly a blessing as I’ve been able to see her and say goodbye to her many times. It’s obviously hard to say goodbye to someone and then have a second and third opportunity to do it again over a year and a half time frame, but this is just a small testament to how strong of a person she actually is. My papa’s birthday was on May 21. He turned 85 years old. And for his birthday he had to finish planning his wife’s funeral.
My papa has been grandma’s primary care giver since the beginning of her diagnosis. Grandma used to do all of the cooking and baking in the house, but now it’s papa. He’s taken over completely as my grandma just isn’t strong enough anymore. In addition, in her last few days of cooking she would often forget that she turned the stove on and walk away. Luckily nothing catastrophic occurred. Despite the forgetfulness though, grandma has a good sense of humor about it. There’s nothing that we can do about her forgetting this and that except accept it and giggle about it later. And trust me, my grandma can still giggle. My papa now does all the cooking and baking. I’m pretty sure he can bake a better pie than I can!
Papa is one of the strongest people that I know. He’s taking care of his love day and night; dressing her, trying to feed her, helping her sit up and lay down, giving her her medications and I could go on and on. My papa rocks her to sleep every night and every morning they look at each other in the eyes and say “We’ve made it another day,” because that’s what it’s come down to. The days they get to wake up and give each other a kiss are numbered now. And each day is a blessing.
Their three children, and myself, were fortunate enough to go visit her for Mother’s Day. It is actually the last time that I will see her. She typically only wears nighty’s or robes during the day because they are warm and it’s the only thing that can fit her these days. On Mother’s Day though, she requested to be dressed up. So my papa dressed her and did her hair for her. She was escorted from their bedroom into the living room, with her little legs wobbling and taking the tiniest of steps, to greet her family. She had a smile on her face the whole day, even while she slept on the couch. It was a good day. And we were all very thankful that our final day with this incredibly strong woman was a day that left a smile on our hearts.