“My son, do not forget my teaching,
but keep my commands in your heart,
for they will prolong your life many years
and bring you peace and prosperity.” Prov 3:1-2
Long ago, children were raised by a village. Family was all around. Teachers could be found on every little street, church and school. Good teachers hold a special place in our memories. Sometimes those memories swirl around in our head and emerge to remind us of some knowledge that we gained because of that one person. One of my favorite teachers was Grandma Mac. There are so many memories of this lady. Mother 0f 8 and an additional still-born set of twins. Strong matriarch after her husband died. Loving Grandma. There was nothing better than stopping to see her when I was out riding my bike or walking home from school. Her kitchen was full of aromas that never came out of our kitchen at home. (Mom may have been her daughter, but she never could manage to cook like her mama.) Homemade noodles, cookie jars full of un-burned sweetness (mom always “overcooked” cookies), chocolate-meringue-topped pies, sauerkraut setting on the back porch with the wine bottles brewing..and on and on and on.
“Grandchildren are the crown of the aged, and the glory of children is their fathers.” Prov 17:6
In those days, we could ride our bikes all around our small town…day into night…at least…until the car horn beeped three times or the fireflies lit our way home. Parents never worried about what we were doing; they knew that neighbors were always keeping their eyes open for mischief, and I could get spanked from them as well as mom or dad. Inevitably, there were the stops at Grandma’s house – especially after she got home from working at the Flxi (Flxible Bus Company). If she was not home yet, I would wander around her kitchen garden, sit on the porch and read my favorite book of the day, or explore the old barn behind her house. To my way of thinking, the 50’s were the perfect time to grow up. Church on Sunday, family gatherings, bike rides, minstrel shows, a library full of books, and endless list of happy times, but at the top of that list was always Grandma Mac.
Yesterday, my daughter picked strawberries and shared some with us, so today I made shortcake. Grandma taught me her recipe as I stood on a chair by her side….flour, buttermilk, baking powder, butter, sugar and a touch of vanilla. Sometimes she even patted it with powdered sugar as she put it in the baking dish…golden brown heaven covered with strawberries, homemade ice cream and real whipped creme. Some of her kitchen pictures and tools remain in my own kitchen, and it makes me smile as I think about her hands holding the same ones that I hold. Double boiler pan slightly colored on one side from our house fire several years ago, an porcelain funnel, a potato masher. Simple things but so precious.
Memories bring us close to those who have traveled through this world before us. They were our first teachers – our touchstones. Stones that are handled throughout many generations. Stones that have been carved by the sharp knives of knowledge, wisdom, and love. Stones that are left behind for us to hold and treasure. Now I have my own Grands, and already, they stand on chairs by my side. We haven’t made any of Great-Grandma Mac’s recipes…YET. But summer looms ahead. and I think there will be a day – or hundreds of days – when we will chose one of her touchstones, carving a little more love into it, and passing on the skills that she passed to me. And believe it or not, I believe the Grands will be teaching me much more than I am teaching them.
“At that same time Jesus was filled with the joy of the Holy Spirit, and he said, “O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, thank you for hiding these things from those who think themselves wise and clever, and for revealing them to the childlike. Yes, Father, it pleased you to do it this way.” Luke 10:21