Sometimes writing helps people through an emotional time, sometimes remembering happy memories… so here I am trying both. My grandma passed away last week. She was an amazing person. Beautiful, smart, and full of love. Days last week were spent looking through photos, and laugh-crying sharing memories with loved ones. Sadly her life was stripped away before last week with the horrible disease of Alzheimer’s. While she wasn’t the same person the last decade, the hope was always there that when you went to visit her, and she looked at you, that she was remembering all these memories herself. At her wake, we were asked to write out one memory we had with my grandmother on a memory wall. How do you pick just one when some of your favorite childhood memories were spent at your grandparents houses (their house up north as well as in Florida). Holidays were spent in their NY house around an extended dining room table, playing with old school toys or down in the basement making up games or playing house. Random sleepovers, dinners at the Italian restaurant/pizza place down the block, and shopping on Steinway Street. My sister, cousins and I spent our entire summers in Florida when we were kids – flying down with my grandparents when school ended then flying back up before school started. We’d spend mornings in the pool, afternoons shopping, and nights watching Block Party Summer on Nick at Night eating Publix ice cream. We learned how to play solitaire, we did crossword puzzles, we played mermaids in the pool and store in the carpeted garage turned play room (where we made my grandma buy all her belongings back), and we hid in her walk in closet during those Florida summer thunderstorms. We ate out at different restaurants all the time, “forced” her to eat McDonald’s, and baked her a cake “on our own” every year for her birthday. So when this doesn’t even tip the iceberg for the number of amazing memories you have with this incredible woman, how do you pick one? So I picked two. One from Florida and one from NY. When I was younger, I collected stickers. It was actually a big thing… I had hundred of stickers and tons of books. All my friends did. And we’d trade them. Well, one day I was at my grandparents house and my grandma walked me up and down Steinway Street on a mission together to find the very best stickers to trade with my friends Monday at recess. We found some great ones that day, and created a memory I’ll never forget. In Florida, Publix ice cream will always remind me of my grandparents. My grandma always got her coffee flavor while my grandpa and I would get cherry nut. But it was her pitcher of White Zinfandel (her wine of choice) one night at dinner which I’ll never forget. Grandma got a little tipsy that night. Not very, but a little. And she took home all the leftover bread in her purse! I think it was really probably only a half a carafe… but as a kid it looked like a big pitcher haha
But I think the greatest memories of all are the food and recipes she passed down and the memories which go along with those recipes. These recipes allow for her spirit to live on through every gathering and every time they are made. I’ve shared many of these with you already, so please allow me to share them again. My favorites from what she’s passed down. Apple Pie – a thanksgiving tradition and one which will be extra special this year. Pumpkin bread – seeing these little bundles of joy in my freezer as a kid was so special. And meatballs – a tradition I’ll remember every New Year’s Day to come.
I’m not sure if this helped at all or not. I’ve shed a few more tears. But thank you for allowing me to share these memories and recipes in memory of my grandma.