Friday, August 26, 2011


Today is a coffee with lunch kind of day.  My grandmother told me her mother always kept a pot of coffee on the stove and a pot of rice.  That is my grandmother above, an exceptionally classy lady, a member of the Greatest Generation, a dying breed of women, who always had coffee with lunch.

One of my earliest memories is standing behind her in the kitchen.  Sister, as we called her, has her back to me at the stove.  She is in an A-line skirt, navy blue heels, and cream blouse, with an apron tied in a tight bow above the hip.  My father's mother cooked a formal dinner every night for her family of six, usually in heels.  She never spat, except when brushing her teeth, and she gave me my first set of pearl earrings.  Oh, and she loved Chardonnay.

One of my earliest posts here on Ecoculinaire was about Sister. She passed away early this June, and I will never forget the last living moment we shared with her as a family.  We were gathered around her bed, where we had been the entire week.  Around this woman who touched so many hearts with her bright smile and open mind.  Her bedside had been a peaceful, solemn place, where stories were quietly shared as friends and family gathered.  But that Friday, at around Happy Hour, there was a shift in the air.   My grandmother always had nibbles out at 5 and an open bottle of white wine to be enjoyed by anyone who stopped by...and people did stop by to sit a spell.  She called this hour "wine time." 
It was as if the idea came in on a sea breeze.  It was not discussed.  It was not planned.  A spontaneous wine time erupted at Sister's deathbed.   Suddenly my aunts began bustling about in the kitchen.  Cheese plates were brought out, and my Uncle's incredible crab dip.  Glasses brimming with Chardonnay and crackers piled high were passed from hand to hand around my grandmother.  The hands of her children and one of her six grandchildren.  We were there, and even though she had been unconscious for almost a week, we knew Sister was there too.

My grandmother was the essential Southern lady.  A Yellow Dog Democrat who practiced tolerance and lived with an open intellect which allowed her to befriend people from all walks of life. A woman who exuded both a rich warmth and a delicate elegance, like a meringue.   Women of her caliber are dwindling and I think we all need to take a hard look at ourselves today in relation to our grandmothers.  Women born long before the Women's Liberation Movement, who held pride as matriarchs and found their own stride as their children opened new doors for them. 

What doors will we open for our mothers?  Just something to think about over a cup of coffee at lunch.


Christina said...

Beautiful, Nan! Although I met Sister only once, she was a true lady and very likeable (sp?). I'm so sorry for your loss, but know you have wonderful memories!

Unknown said...

Thanks Nan,
I enjoy how family rituals like you shared help hold the emotional atmosphere of being in the fold. Did Sister like music at wine time?

Nan said...

Sister liked music, but strangely enough it was not usually a part of wine time. Music is definitely a part of mine though!

haggardmom said...

A wonderful post!