I’ve often heard people talk about that moment when you realize you’ve become your mother, but I don’t remember anyone talking about when you realize you’ve become your grandmother.
My childhood Sundays were spent first in Beaumont Baptist church followed by Sunday dinner at my grandmother’s house. My Mom rarely went to church and stayed at grandmother’s to cook. We walked the two blocks from church to grandmother’s, and even though my grandfather was still alive then, it was always referred to as her house. My grandparents had six children and ten grandchildren. A full house when everyone came to dinner. The grownups sat at the kitchen table while we all crowded around the card table, the coffee table, and on warm days we would also sit on the porch.
After dinner, the women and girls would all fill the kitchen putting away leftovers and doing the dishes. We’d gossip and laugh making quick work of the cleanup.
My family didn’t hug, kiss, or cuddle, but we did spend time together. We celebrated birthdays, and it was always somebody’s birthday. We laughed and joked about one another. Sometimes we argued and usually about silly things. My mother and her sister got into it about a movie that had been on television the night before, and I think they might have scrabbled around on the floor if we hadn’t intervened. They were both well into their fifties at the time.
As I sat in the pew at my grandmother’s funeral, I felt the past slipping away. Nothing would ever be the same again. We’d lost my mother two years earlier, and now grandmother was gone too. And then the preacher challenged me to continue what my grandmother started. He talked of passing by my grandmother’s house after church and seeing cars lining the street, people sitting on the front porch with plates heaped with good food.
When people learn that I cook Sunday dinner, they ask for how many and then how could I possibly cook for all those people. Sometimes I do take the easy way, some Sundays we have tacos or spaghetti. Sometimes I buy dessert from the store. Since my father has given up starchy carbs, I’ve learned to make new side dishes. I’ve also learned that I do like broccoli and cauliflower. And yes, I was the picky kid growing up, and I’m still a picky adult.
I have four grandchildren now, 10, 5, 3, and 1. My brother and his wife just had a baby, and it’s a family joke that while his older sister and brother (17 and 15) call me aunt Connie, the new baby will probably call me Mamaw like the rest of the kids his age.
In a time where we have so many methods of communication, I love that meeting once a week for Sunday dinner continues to bring us together as a family.
So what am I cooking tomorrow? Well, it’s my father’s birthday, so I’m cooking pork tenderloin, which is a favorite of his. There will be mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, green beans, pinto beans, broccoli casserole, and cauliflower casserole. I’m not sure about dessert. In the past, I would make him a chocolate cake, but he’s given up sugar too. I’ll probably get some fruit, and for the sugar eating side of the family maybe I’ll make a poundcake to go along with it.