My grandmother — known as “Nanna” to EVERYBODY — until recently has lived alone in her apartment and filled her days with trips to the senior’s centre to play bridge, cheering on the Toronto Blue Jays, baking cookies, tarts, and the occasional lemon meringue pie, marathon-styled shopping trips (which would make Hannibal’s slog across the Alps seem like a cake walk) and keeping her hands busy knitting tiny hats for preemie babies and crocheting warm vests and toques for children in Afghanistan. Stubbornly independent, she was fussing with her Christmas decorations a few weeks before the holidays, and tripped on a chair leg, fracturing her hip. This is where I should probably mention: she’s 101 years old!
Surgery went surprisingly well – – I’m sure it was an unprecedented success for the young surgeon. But it was clear that she would not be able to return to solo flight in her apartment, and an extremely difficult and emotionally challenging move to a retirement home happened just this week.
All of this has meant that a lifetime of belongings had to be broken up in a shockingly rapid pace in order to empty her apartment and comply with her
demands wishes. In the ‘first round’ of picks, I chose the Pyrex mixing bowl set (which I discussed in this blog post) and in the ‘second round’ I brought home the items pictured above.
I sorted out another box of things that I would like to bring home – though I left it in the apartment with a note that “Nancy would like to have these if no one else wants them”. It includes pieces of glass and china. I’m also hoping to be the one to get the hutch from her dining room. But with eight grandchildren, and uncountable numbers of great-grandchildren, and yes, a burgeoning tribe of great-great-grandchildren, I know that I need to be gracious and share.
There was a very brief and minor squabble over the washing board – not even worth mentioning, except to highlight the extent to which these humble items are precious to us.
Next was the Yorkshire Pudding tins – so called, because nothing else was ever made in them. I have never had a better Yorkshire Pudding than those that popped out from Nanna’s oven. I’m thinking I should probably get the secret recipe while I still can!
The teeny-tiny star cookie cutter in the centre of the photo cut the top crust of itsy-bitsy mincemeat tarts baked every year in the dozens and dozens she would share with her family – a favourite gift being a Christmassy tin full of “Nanna Cookies”. Nanna believes that miniature cookies are more genteel and therefore the optimal size in all cases – which is sufficient explanation for the set of six nearly microscopic cookie cutters shown pictured in their box. She also maintains that there is far too much sweetness in everything – I can’t bear to reveal to my deluded family that the secret recipe for her famous chocolate chip cookies came from the back of a Chip-its package with the measurements for sugar slashed to 50%. And of course, the chocolate chips must be semi-sweet, not full on sweet!
I suspect that these beliefs about cookies have been one of the contributing factors to her longevity – and I’m not referring to dietary restraint here, specifically – no, I think the lesson her is: we should take delight in even very small pleasures, make diligent efforts to share with everyone around us, and to create lasting memories with our loved ones.