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.
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.