When I was growing up, I spent countless hours at Grandma and Papa’s house.
They took care of me during the day before I was old enough to go to school. They took me on annual beach trips. Grandma helped me catch frogs in her yard. Papa drove me around on his Cub Cadet lawn mower for kicks. Grandma convinced me that washing dishes was fun (nice one). Papa used to buy us each a bag of Raisinets at the store so we could sit on the porch swing and talk and snack in the late afternoons when I came for a sleepover.
Grandma would put me in my little red wagon and pull me up and down her street to visit the neighbors. Papa used to give me a five dollar bill and make me promise not to tell anybody. Grandma used to give me a five dollar bill and make me promise not to tell anybody. There I learned the value of being trustworthy, keeping good secrets, and listening to your elders. Grandma never blew my spot up, either, when I was the Rockstar making $100,000 per year and living in the Victorian cottage I so loved each time we played The Game of Life. Grandma and Papa used to taunt their dog, Marcy, by putting me in her bed and watching her lose her mind. She would bark and run in circles around her bed, it was very annoying I guess. It became a game, and until the day she died you could tell Marcy that you were GOING to get in her bed and she would run down the hall as quick as her legs would carry her to protect her throne. And if you dared to come down the hall to see where she was, there she would sit, in her bed, gnashing her teeth for battle. My relationship with Marcy never recovered.
Grandma and Papa always supported me too, and told me I was the “apple of their eye.” There are serious perks to being the only granddaughter and first grandchild.
Hilda is my grandma. But more specifically “Hilduh” is an alter ego of sorts, created years ago for times when she does not behave like a regular Hilda would. Hilda loves Survivor, even season 84,923,479 of Survivor. But Hilduh loves Survivor enough to put her wicker chair 14 inches from the TV to make sure she doesn’t miss one second of the new episode on our family vacation.
Hilda once told me she was going to teach me to sew. But when I got to her house, Hilduh informed me that I “did not need to try.” And when I told her that she would not always be around to help me with sewing projects she told me that my mother would help me when she died. I have never learned to sew. Hilda was very upset to hear that D and I were having wine and beer at our wedding reception, and she made no bones about it. But Hilduh was caught with a glass of wine at said wedding reception and let me know that it was “good but it needed a little Splenda.” Hilda loves to work puzzles. Hilduh likes to keep a puzzle piece hidden for herself so that she can be the person that completes the puzzle. Basically, she’s the best. She’s quirky without realizing it, and she has been more of an influence than I could explain in a blog. And she wouldn’t approve of this anyway, she would think it’s silly that I’m talking about her here.
Aside from all those funny things that make me laugh, I look at my Grandma with a lot of admiration and adoration. Back then, my grandmother was a housewife in every sense of the word. She quit nurses training when she married Papa. She made clothes for her children. She made the best cookies on the block. And although her children have long left her home, she is still a housewife. She cleans the rooms in her house on a rotating weekly schedule. She grows her own vegetables and cans them. She goes to church every Sunday and visits the “shut-ins” regularly. She bakes up a storm and she’s one hell of a cook. And my Papa has always told me that I need to learn all her tricks so that they live on after she’s gone. I’m learning everyday.
But one of my fondest memories is making cracker candy with Grandma. To this day, I remember the ingredients and ratios because we made it so frequently. And if we didn’t have the ingredients (rare, because Grandmas are always ready) she would send Papa to the store for whatever we lacked. I used to stand on this little wooden stool that had been painted red so I could watch until we were ready to add the next ingredient. I learned today that this little worn-out stool I am quite sentimental about came from a trashcan at the old cigarette factory where my Papa used to work. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure I guess. When the cracker candy was mixed up, Grandma would leave some of that warm, chocolately, peanut-buttery deliciousness in the pot for me to eat with a spoon. Then my brother was born, and I had to share whatever portion was left in the pot. Of course I was in charge of deciding what was a fair split and it was always grossly uneven if I had my way. What can I say? I love sweets and old habits die hard.
Maybe you could try this recipe out and make some memories of your own 🙂
14 oz evaporated milk
2 cups sugar
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 heaping tablespoons (and when Grandma says heaping, she means it) creamy peanut butter
32 (very precise, Grandma) finely crushed saltine crackers
1 cup coconut
Pour sugar and milk into a pot. Separate all other ingredients for easy access for the quick mixing later. Bring milk and sugar to full rolling boil, then stir for three minutes. Add chocolate chips and stir until uniform. Add ingredients, one at a time over heat, until well incorporated. Make sure to thoroughly mix before adding next ingredient. While “batter” is hot pour into a casserole dish and slice like fudge and let cool OR drop teaspoonfuls onto wax paper to make cookies. And make sure to save yourself a spoonful of the batter while its warm in the bottom of your pot. It’s worth it 🙂