My Grandmother wears aprons (the old fashioned, quilted kind from the 50’s that were meant to stand up to some punishment) and she always smells like fresh milk. She can make things with her hands that would inspire a renaissance or quell a war.
I grew up feasting on her culinary creations which were worshipped in our Rocky Mountain valley on a nearly hedonistic level. She was the artistic sculptor of delectable Cakes, the magician of warm, buttery Fudge and the priestess of sweet, foamy, white Divinity. She baked her love (long before the transfer of love via calories became a cause for national concern) and delivered it in tenderly wrapped, hand cut boxes.
Maybe I never became domestic because she was just so good at it. I didn’t need to embrace this warm, country life, as it was already in the best of hands.
I liked planes.
I loved to soar away as far as I could go. I embraced the cliché and set off for my wide open spaces with the open minded abandon of youth. I burned merrily through my early years in earnest and exhilarating exploration. I was the proverbial trapeze artist, flying through life, free on the end of a string.
I always knew I could come home, and there would be warm fudge waiting for me.
And there was.
Years past and I found the one. Then we made one, then two, then three. Two sons and one baby daughter in less than five years (the spacing an optimistic move also fueled by the abandon of youth).
My last visit home found my Grandmother, my Mother, my Daughter and I all gathered tightly in my Grandmother’s warm yellow and tan kitchen, adorned in her sacred aprons. Kyrie cooed softly in her car seat while we three began to bake… and talk… and bake. We simmered, mixed, steamed and stirred… and we even cooked a little too.
My Grandmother moved about the kitchen, with an expert ease as she coaxed the often willful ingredients into submission. Slowly there emerged jams, warm rolls, casserole and of course fudge. She showed me how to sense when the luxurious bubbling chocolate was ready to be poured and how to tame it into shape on the plate. While she wrapped the goodies, my mother wiped jam jars and I licked the fudge pot clean.
As the rolls baked, the jams set and I nursed my baby. We exchanged stories, my grandmother reminding me of some I already knew by heart and introducing me to others, family histories that I had never been privy to before. There was the revelation of a young Aunt who had frequented the asylum and fallen victim to our country’s earliest attempts at mental health work, losing her previously whole cognitive powers to electroshock therapy. There was the story of the terrifying morning when my, then 2 year old, uncle was run over by a car and miraculously escaped with only a broken leg. My Grandmother shone as she described the pride of witnessing and facilitating the upbringing of three strong generations, and still no end in sight. Yet, she confessed, she didn’t want to die. Her words weaved me deeper into the fabric of our family.
Wrapped up in the kitchen warmth and my Grandmother’s stories I felt my soul being pulled across the string like a bead and tightened into place by my new little daughter and the legacy we were all a part of. We were strung together, my Grandmother, my Mother, myself and now my baby girl. Having come forth, from and through each other, and held now in place by love and nurturing. I was no longer flying through life on the end of a string. I was a part of something more, something that had been there all along yet I had been unable to see.
And as I watched my Grandmother and my Mother tenderly rocking my daughter I knew there would always be warm fudge waiting for her.
And there was.