Stella Doro S Cookies, Wise Onion & Garlic chips, a Maxwell House Can with Bacon Fat and Hellmann’s Mayonnaise
The smell of bacon fills me with excitement as I run to the kitchen. Grandma is standing at the stove cooking her daily lunch of Wonder Bread, Hellmann’s mayo and bacon fat. I beg for a bite. Disgusted yet again at the horrible texture I spit it out. My brain refusing to connect that something that smells so good can taste so bad.
After she eats I sit on her lap admiring the hard earned lines in her face. Every day she wears a nurses uniform blue and white, it never changes. I like to think she loves and misses being nurse in the war. But her eyes are sad, and though cloudy, they share so much. Her lack of English limited our conversation, but her heart and touch fill me with love.
I start to bounce as the familiar sound fills my ears and she sings “oom pa oom pa oom papa, oom pa oom pa oom papaaaa….”. I fall between her legs to be swiftly saved and pulled back up again and again. This is a highly anticipated time in my day. We share Wise onion and garlic chips, the bright green bag that religiously sits on the top of the fridge. Happily we crunch as the sweet and tangy flavors rush across our tongues.
Soon she will head for her afternoon walk. She leaves for hours walking from South Boston to Cambridge and back; our ragamuffin dog following the whole way faithfully at her side. She carries an American flag tapping the houses she passes with the stick. Her collar always adorned with an embroidered four leaf clover sticker. I think she feels lucky to be in America, and each tap is a thank you to the country and god. On her return she makes tea and grabs the Stella D’oro S cookies as a treat. I don’t like them much but I love her and the love they represent.
For me, Grandma is a collection of fascinating objects and broken memories. She fills my heart and helps me understand what a smile is for.
She is the faded virgin mother poster with broken glass that sits behind a washing machine that never works.
She is a green rabbit’s foot that sits on the window sill next to a faded black and white photo of my grandfather in his coffin; the back covered with writing in Lithuanian.
She is laughter and love without language.
She is an old long navy blue coat in the closet with the tiniest waist I’ve ever seen.
She is the one who makes me eat with my right hand and never with my left.
She is an adventurous traveler and a lover of lost pets.
She is my creative internal compass for understanding love.