Michelle Knauer Thompson
When I think of my Grams, I think about all the fabulous meals she and Gramps served me, my siblings, my children, my cousins, my friends, and our entire family over the course of my 49+ years. If my tummy was happy, so was she.
She was a fabulous cook and could bake like no one else I’ve ever met or known. The thing I’m most grateful for are the selfless hours she spent with me in the kitchen teaching me how to cook the signature Pennsylvania Dutch dishes that fill me with such comfort. Every time I bake a corn pie, brown butter for noodles and vegetables, or pull out a worn, smudged, dog-eared cookie recipe card stained with vanilla extract, I think of her. She was SO patient with us, would set up a step stool so we could drop by hand, the rolled out pot pie dough squares into the boiling broth on the stovetop. She took the precious time to show us how to keep the dough from sticking to the rolling pin, as well as many other “tips” and “tricks of her trade,” that I’ve since passed on to my girls.
When I left to serve in the U.S. Navy, in the early years, she would send me the local newspaper so I could stay in the know about what was going on back “home” and for my birthday and Christmas, some of her coveted frosted cookies. In later years, after I had children of my own who learned to love Grandma’s special cookies, she’d do the very same for them. She never came to town empty handed. There was a specific “cookie container” that she would bring when she visited. The children all knew what was in store when they spied her carrying it from the car.
She had a feisty spirit and would never hold back when letting me know she wasn’t happy with me. I used to get “it” pretty good from her and years before I learned how to take “it” proper, I would give “it” right back to her. I have since, in my older years, come to appreciate the fact that I always knew where I stood with her. There was never a time that I spent in her company that she didn’t say her peace, sometimes it was easy on the ears, others it was not, but it was hers. She always told me how special I was to her, how much she loved me, and I believed her.
She had an incredibly keen memory and reminisced frequently. I loved hearing her tell me stories about her childhood on a farm, her school days, her siblings, and her boys, my dad and uncle. She would also share things I did or that we did together when I was a young girl. I would recall most of what she would share, but there were times when I would be hearing details for the very first time. I would find myself amazed that she had never forgotten the specifics of those times, almost as if they had taken place in recent weeks, months, or even years.
Growing up when I visited, which was often, we’d play with many of the toys that my father and uncle had when they were young. We’d play Uncle Wiggly, Candyland, baby dolls, store, complete with an old push button cash register that would “ching” when the drawer opened, build all sorts of things with blocks, Lincoln Logs and Legos, but the toy(s) I remember having the most fun with were the milk trucks, complete with milk bottles that we loaded on the back of the truck and then would deliver to our imaginary neighborhood outdoor milk boxes. What fun!
She loved her family and did what she could to help them. She and Gramps would drop by with sacks of groceries from time to time, she bought us shoes, coats, clothing, etc. But the greatest demonstration of this that I recall was during a time when she came to live with us for several months following my parents’ separation and subsequent divorce. Having her there to prepare us all breakfast, get us off to school, cook us meals, and to help my dad run a household that included three young children, made things less chaotic in an unusually stressful and sad time. The only drawbacks to her doing this was that her cat, Nicky, missed her something fierce, and nothing, and I mean nothing, ever went to waste, forcing us to eat leftover brussel sprouts at every meal until they were all gone, which sometimes lasted for several days.
In my adult years, before she moved to Pleasant View, we would sip coffee, eat cookies, wash and dry dishes after a delicious meal, look through old pictures, fold her laundry, watch her favorite “stories” on T.V., play cards, and do word searches or crossword puzzles together. I had lots of solid quality time spent in her company.
The pinnacle of my relationship with my Grams is to recognize and appreciate how lucky I was to have her in my life for as long as I did. It’s quite rare that someone approaching 50 still has living Grandparents. That gave me lots of her influence in my life. And by having that, I have that many more memories that I’ll cherish and carry for the rest of my days.
Rest in peace Grams! Love ya lots! Please give Gramps a “Grandpa Hug” from me and steal his Green M&M’s when he’s not looking! :-) XOXOXO
Friday February 2, 2018 at 11:31 am