I’ve been thinking about my grandparents a lot lately. All four of them are looking down on me from heaven now, and I miss them so. What a blessing it was for me to grow up with all of them involved in my life — some more than others, of course, but all four of them were truly precious to me. It’s a blessing to have known them, as many people have never had the privilege of knowing their grandparents.
Anyhow, there are things that remind me of them and I thought it would make a good Top Ten list. So, here are ten things that remind me of my sweet grandparents.
1. Classic white Dove soap. My grandmother Honey never used anything else, and the smell always takes me back to being six years old, enjoying long baths in the old iron tub after spending all day making mud pies and playing in the yard at their clapboard house in East Atlanta. I love my fancy-schmancy Bath and Body Works bath gels in every fragrance imaginable, but like my Honey, I’ve always used Dove on my face. And sometimes, like tonight, I wash all over with Dove, just so I can enjoy a fragrance that was part of the safest, happiest days of my life.
2. Sauerkraut. Funny to jump from something that smells so good to something that stinks so bad, but my grandfather, Toto, was a first-generation Austrian/Ukrainian immigrant and he loved the stuff. So my grandmother learned from his mother how to make it every way imaginable. I was quite old before I realized that not everyone ate sauerkraut all the time! LOL I made kraut and sausage for a family dinner on Sunday, and that smell of sauteed onions and sauerkraut just brings me back to their kitchen.
3. Pipe smoke. I’m beginning to see a theme with this list, that it’s usually fragrances that trigger the strongest memories. I read somewhere that is true because the areas of the brain that process smells and memories are very close together. My Grandpa Allen smoked a pipe when I was a little girl, and I always loved the smell of it. I’ve been tempted to buy a small package of pipe tobacco and just burn some on a plate, like incense, to enjoy that scent again.
4. Baking. My Grandmother Allen, or Granny, as we called her, loved to bake. Now, she wasn’t quite the cook that my Honey was, but she could definitely bake. Every year at Christmas she started baking cookies a month or two ahead, and always baked a fruitcake — not the red/green/gold kind that gets joked about, but a soft, sweet, spicy cake that was actually really tasty.
5.Fruitcake! Not just because of Granny, but because Toto loved fruitcake — and I’m talking about the red/green/gold brick-shaped kind that nobody else eats. I can remember sitting at the table with him, trying to enjoy a slice right along with him, but I never could make it through a piece! LOL
6. Volkswagens. My mom’s parents, Honey and Toto, always had at least one VW and their son, my Uncle Mike, was a VW mechanic for ages. Funny that I inadvertently married a VW man as well!
7. Giant circa-1970 four-door sedans. I couldn’t tell you the make or model of the cars my paternal grandparents drove, but Granny and Grandpa always picked us up in some kind of massive boat-like vehicle with leather seats. This was before seat belt laws were in effect, and I can remember sliding around in the back seat with my two sisters, banging into each other as Grandpa flew around turns in the road. Good times!
8. Game shows. I always go back to long, leisurely summer days, sprawled out in Honey’s living room in front of the wooden console TV with my sisters, as we watched Wheel of Fortune, The Price is Right, The Newlywed Game and Pyramid. She loved watching game shows, and continued to enjoy them until the end of her life. I can just see her now, in her chair, working a word-search puzzle book as she called out answers to Vanna White. I remember wondering how she could pay attention to both things at once, until I grew up and discovered that I, too, could multitask!
9. Santa Claus. Toto played Santa Claus every Christmas through most of my childhood. He always grew a real beard for the occasion, too. All the Santa memorabilia I put out each December reminds me of him, especially the big Santa light-up figure we have on our front porch, because it used to be his. I don’t care if anyone thinks it’s tacky — that Santa will always be the centerpiece of my outdoor Christmas decorations.
10. Red roses. They were my Honey’s favorite flower and one of mine as well. My garden will always feature a red rose bush in honor of my grandmother.
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