Grandma Pearl

It’s Friday, so time for some Red Dress Club.  There were two prompts this week you can click over to read if you’d like.  I thought about doing this fiction, but non-fiction was easier for me, and I decided to go easy this week.  Critiques are welcome.

Grandma Pearl

The radio in the kitchen played on my parent’s old am/fm radio with the front that reminded me of a wicker chair.  My sister and I careened from the kitchen down the dark hallway.  We were in our pajamas and our slippers.   My dad’s mom knit them for us regularly.   There were many pairs over the years, but they were always one solid color with a star burst of another color on the tops and heels.  The pair I remember most were royal blue with crimson star bursts.  They were the best for sliding across linoleum floors.  Far better than white crew socks that stuck after a couple feet.  These slippers were designed for speed and distance.  Sore tail bones were common the day after one of our skating escapades.

When I was around four we went to New Jersey to visit my grandparents.  We lived in Minnesota and didn’t see them too often.  We were going to the Jersey Shore for the day and to spend time on the boardwalk.  I don’t know if I had the flu or if it was my grandfather’s notoriously fast driving, but we had to pull over on the Jersey Turnpike.  I threw up on the shoulder with cars speeding by and the smell of gasoline in my nose.  My grandfather wanted to keep going, but my grandmother made him turn around and go home.  She laid me on the couch in front of the television downstairs and placed a bucket next to me (and emptied it a couple times, if I recall).  She turned on cartoons for me.  I imagine my grandpa protested.  There was probably a Yankees game on.  Then she sat, handed me a skein of yarn to roll into a ball, and began to knit.  Her knitting needles clicked like a metronome on some fuzzy yellow yarn.  I watched a baby blanket magically appear that day.

My grandma was a good cook.  At least that’s what I remember.  She was Hungarian (I’m half).  She taught my Norwegian mother how to make my dad’s favorite Hungarian recipes, toltott kaposzta (stuffed cabbage), chicken paprikash with nokedli, and speghetti sauce.    The spaghetti sauce is the best.  I was told she learned to make it from an Italian neighbor.  Whenever we saw her, she made all these dishes.  Even though she taught my mom, I remember I always thought Grandma’s were better.

My grandma died when I was seven from a massive heart attack.  My memories of her are short flashes, strong odors, unusual sounds, certain tastes.   Although I didn’t know her well, she’s always been a big influence in my life.   When I was in vet school, I took a knitting class so I could make blankets and slippers for my own children.    I learned to cook all the Hungarian recipes, so I could share our heritage with my children.  I make her spaghetti sauce pretty regularly.   I’ve changed it a bit.  I use olive oil instead of Crisco.  I use chicken sausage instead of pork.  I’ve kept the bell peppers and onions, but add eggplant, mushrooms, and kale depending on my mood and the contents of my refrigerator.  Every time I make it, I think of her.    I’d like to say I’m as kind and patient as she was, but that wouldn’t be true.  I got my grandfather’s temper (and passed it on to Ella).

If I could, I would spend an afternoon with her, maybe knitting.  I bet she could help me actually finish some slippers for my girls.  Royal blue with crimson star bursts.

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16 Responses to “Grandma Pearl”

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  1. Carrie
    Twitter: Miss_Scarlett99

    That’s a great memory of your grandma. I’d try to give you some critique but I find it difficult when the memories are obviously so special to you.

  2. The Drama Mama
    Twitter: poopscoopinmama

    Royal blue with crimson stars. I LOVE the visual. And Grandmas always cook it better. She feels like she is my grandmother too.

  3. Mad Woman behind the Blog
    Twitter: madsbloggingmom

    Wow, I feel like a I know her a little. That’s wonderful.

    And the slippers? We had them too. I can’t wait for my daugther to be more sure-footed to get some on her!

    And yes, I’m checking out the recipe!

  4. Jessica Anne says:

    Thanks, I loved those slippers.

  5. Nichole
    Twitter: ITSMoments

    Some of my happiest memories of my childhood were spent with my grandparents. They made me feel safe and beyond loved.

    I spent evenings knitting and crocheting with my Grammy and there was something so soothing about the sound of the knitting needles clinking against one another. You brought me back to that place with this piece, so thank you so very much.

    I love this part “My memories of her are short flashes, strong odors, unusual sounds, certain tastes.” I would absolutely love to hear more about those things.

    • Jessica Anne says:

      I love the sound of knitting needles too. Well, when being used by someone who knits well.

      Thank you for the critique, it made me realize I could rearrange some things and add in a few things I left out for brevity to make it better. So thank you.

  6. Rachel says:

    Tante just sent me the family cookbook. Your grandma is featured in it. Totally thought of the photo near the front of her :)

    And Grandma’s always do cook better. I think it could be some kind of magic Grandma spice they put in or something. Grandma Haaland’s chicken still can’t be duplicated. That was SOOOOO good. I’ve got the market on her apple pies though… when I feel like spending an entire day attempting pie crust… and only succeeding once. :P

    • Jessica Anne says:

      Was that the first you got it? That picture is her holding me. In fact, all the pictures of her in there are with me. It’s because I was her favorite. ;)

      I have never had Grandma’s pie (or chicken for that matter). You’ll have to make the crust for me once. :)

  7. Cheryl @ Mommypants
    Twitter: mommy_pants

    Even though she died when you were so young I think it’s amazing she had such a wonderful lasting impression.

  8. Kristy says:

    I would also choose my grandma for this. She passed so recently, I wasn’t ready yet to write about it. Your post was tender.

  9. Natalie
    Twitter: mommyofamonster

    This is such a sweet post. There’s just something about little girls spending time with their grandmas – we learn so much from them. The recipe sounds really good, too.