Friday, April 01, 2011

In Honor

One year ago, my grandmother died.
I can easily say, without hesitation, that she was the greatest influence of my life. I have never known of a more supportive, non-judgmental, unconditionally loving person. In life she was one of my greatest friends, confidantes, advisors and champions. When she died, it felt like a great light went out in the world. It is no small thing to lose such a person in your life- the one who rallied and loved you in a way different than anyone else ever could. Not surprisingly, her death and her funeral were some of the most spiritual and meaningful experiences of my life. In the past few weeks I have found myself thinking of her intensely almost every day, brought to tears missing her so. Her death was such a great loss to so many; truly to know her was to love her. Words simply cannot express the void that she has left for so many. And yet I know the heavens rejoiced at her homecoming, and I know that she is more able to help me now than when she was on the earth. I like to imagine that she is taking care of my baby until I can see them both again, that I have two guardian angels on my left and on my right.
We have a couple of oft-quoted stories of my young childhood related to grandma that I want recorded so my children will know them. I was born in Denver, and lived near grandma until the age of 3 when my dad was transferred to the east. When they broke the news that we were moving to grandma she replied, "Well, are you going to take Jess?!" (Incidentally, I was named after her mother, Jessie.) Another fabled  story was around the same time and grandma and I were in her room. She was putting on her makeup and complaining that she felt ugly. She said, "But honey, I'm just so old", to which I famously replied "To me you're not!". Indeed, she always exemplified all things beautiful. In fact, I believe she only increased in beauty until the day she died. How did she do that?

{Grandma and I when Timm and I went to the temple in 2004. I think she is simply ethereal in this picture.}

She also gave me the only 2 nicknames I've ever had. She always called me her 'Pritzy Pritz', from the time I was a baby and I still love it. She is also the one who first called me a badger, hence the blog name. She used to give me Frances books, and inscribed them to her 'favorite little badger', imploring me not to change.
*edited: It is true that my dad always called me 'Weirdicus Jess', my 3rd and final nickname.

In our family, we have a tradition of giving 'gifts of love' that we write out to each present member of the family on Christmas Eve. I have this one, from when I was 18 months old. I treasure it, and I want to get it nicely framed.

My mom happened to be in town today, and in discussing it we had simply planned to make a nice cake, since fabulous cakes are part of her greatest legacy. Denise had a better idea, and she decided to bake bread and take it to grandma's friends and those in need. Grandma exemplified charity, and in her declining years would often bake for people since it was one of the only ways she felt she could still serve. Plus, she was damn good at it. Michelle and Miranda also participated in what I have coined the Bread Brigade. I made my all-time favorite bread recipe, Limpa Rye, and took it to a couple of my neighbors. I was very pleased that it turned out to be a very good dough. 

Never one to miss an opportunity to make a cake, I also made Banana Cake at my mom's request since we celebrated her birthday while she was here as well. Linda had the wonderful suggestion to add pecans and coconut to the top, making it Southern-Style Banana Cake, a variation I will definitely be keeping. It's a good cake, but not my favorite simply because if chocolate or White Mountain were an option (and they always should be), why would you choose banana? But with the southern variation, very good. (Also, true to form, she changed the recipe unbeknownst to me. She added about 1/3 block of cream cheese to the whipped cream frosting to help stabilize it. Bonus.)

And speaking of cake, my mom got us these super cute signs, apropos for remembering Grandma. Here it is in its temporary placement:

{I do.}

All I can say is, I can't wait until I get to see her again.
And I strive every day to be a bit more like her.
Her influence still guides me every day.

p.s. I had planned on making something to commemorate the day and sending them to a few people, but I never got around to it. I toyed with several ideas, but decided on some printables that I am working on and will post on Sunday.


michelle said...

1. She did continue to increase in beauty right up to her death. I sure would love to learn that trick!

2. The ONLY 2 nicknames you've ever had?? I think you must be forgetting about Weirdicus Jess...

3. That gift of love is a treasure indeed. I love the notes I have in her handwriting, since she stopped writing in her later years.

4. Jill joined the Bread Brigade as well!

5. The Southern additions to banana cake look good to me. But I don't know why anyone would choose that over German Chocolate...

Tasha said...

We just had the second anniversary of my grandfather dying. It will be sweet sweet to see him again as well.

{natalie} said...

This is a lovely post. I just love it. I have been thinking of what i would do to honor my grand mom, and I think I'd have a bowl of ice-cream or a Bahama Mama.

I am now off to check out that rye recipe

{natalie} said...

Ps did you add seeds to the dough or just on top?

Denise said...

This post is a beautiful tribute to Grandma (and that has always been one of my favorite photos of her). I love knowing that the Bread Brigade was a nationwide effort! Grandma's friends really seemed to like what I took them.

What a treasure that gift of love note is! I love it when I stumble upon snippets of her handwriting, especially one as meaningful as this.

I love the Southern additions to the banana cake recipe, but fear it would not go over well at my house. . . .

emily said...

I really love this post. Her love is so tangible. I feel so lucky to be loved by her.

jt said...

Nat, there are no seeds in the bread. What you see is just the rye flour.

Charlotte said...

I've been thinking of Grandma so much over the past few weeks. It's been such a strength to have Conference coincide with this year milestone. I feel so blessed to have had such a close relationship with her, and it's a miracle to me that my relationship with her isn't lost but can really continue to grow, even on opposite sides of the veil.

Thank you for this tribute, and know that I will join in the Bread Brigade, though a little late. I'm waiting for my refurbished KitchenAid to arrive!

Molly Krauss Smith said...

Gosh, your grandmother is so pretty!

Diana said...

i love that sign that from your mom.
I love reading about your Grandma's influence on your, Michelle Denise, Charlotte and Emily's blogs.
How nice that your mom and you could be together on that day.

linda said...

What a beautiful picture of the two of you! I love that she had such an impact on your life, I had a grandma whom I loved dearly, as well.

We are so fortunate to have people that touch our lives for good. It is something that I wish I did more of!

Your bread looks ummy and the Southern style Banana Cake was pretty yummy!

Susan said...

Thank you for such tender words. I love it so much that my mother was such an influence in the lives of my children, each one of you.

Mother was truly beautiful, wasn't she? I keep hoping that my later years will reap the rewards of suddenly becoming beautiful like that...but I fear it's a pipe dream!

I strive to become more like her. She is my hero. I can remember when both of those things happened and they phrases do live on.

I'm glad we could be together. I couldn't help but think of grandma when you told me "it was a good dough". I heard her exclaim the same thing so many times.

patsy said...

this is such a beautiful post.
REading this makes me want to be a better person.

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