Alchemy

My grandma passed away a few days before Christmas.

She was a really special lady. The world lost a good one on the 21st of December. Despite age, despite illness, despite a life well lived: I miss her a lot. She’s left a person shaped hole in my heart.

Personally, I find it kind of interesting that I haven’t found a way to write about this here until now. The Funky Kitchen is not only a place where I have an outlet to talk about food (yay food!) but this is a spot I really appreciate having where I can put down all of the whirligig thoughts I have spinning around. I thought that I would have gotten here sooner.

As happens when the emotions get to big for me though, I had trouble putting it into words. Too many of the thoughts and and feelings are difficult, colorless, shapeless, wordless things that I couldn’t really write about even when I wanted to. Does that happen to anyone else? I mean, I consider myself a proficiently articulate person but I needed some time to work it out, card the yarn before spinning it, in order to really form a cohesive verbal message about all of it.

All of it.

Since the 21st, I have been reeling in memories, grasping at strings, trying to make it feel like that grandma shaped hole in my heart doesn’t ache so bad.

I was at my Mum’s visiting my brother, and I suddenly felt that I needed to find a picture of us together. That would help. Opening up old old photo albums to see her as I remember her: younger, healthy and full of gumption helped the feeling. Seeing her blowing out candles on birthday cakes, or with my oh so young looking parents, or with tiny me and tiny Nolan (my little brother) was bittersweet. There won’t be any more pictures.

At some point in our family history, my Grandma put together a binder of her recipes. My Mum gave her copy of the binder to me when Mister and I moved into our house. That book was something that she was directly involved with, something she made. And so, it ended up in the nest of blankets I was crying under after I got the news. Reading her words, turns of phrase that made it sound like her, made it all sting less.  There are notes like “Jim’s favorite”, Jim being my dad, and there is a cheekily written recipe for Instant Pudding. These weren’t just recipes, these were family histories, stories, memories. And they came from her. It was comforting to have something to hold in my hands that she made.

So of course, I was driven to, needed to make something from the book. To take her words and make them into something lovely. To try and do something she did, something similar to things we had done together in the past. To try to connect to those memories of standing on a chair by the counter so that I could help stir. To conjure her up because I don’t want her to be gone.

All of this makes me wonder if this is what the alchemists felt like, trying to transform base metals into gold. It hasn’t worked yet, but you’re sure that if you do the right thing, choose the right ingredients and treat them the right way, melt the lead just so, that it may just transmute into gold. The other alchemists may have given up, but what if they just didn’t try hard enough? What if they had missed some essential methodology?

I hope and struggle, and hope and struggle, wishing that if I collect up my evidence of her and all of my memories, bring together the elements properly… what happened won’t really have happened? time would rewind and I could visit again? it won’t hurt the way it does? that whatever remaining energy, or spirit, or yet to be reincarnated material will know how well she was loved?

This struggle may be what grief is about. Feeling so sad and breathless, you try to catch what whisps remain of that person, try to bring them back even though you can’t. A difficult mix of comforting and disappointing, memories and mementos make you feel anchored to them but also remind you that this is all you have left. You never stop missing those you have lost, but you regain your bearings.

… and now I feel more a mess. And more wordless. Too many things to say that I can’t say with words just yet.  I just miss her.

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This time last year: Chicken Saltimbocca

And the year before: Petite Poutine 

And the year before that: Egg Nog Ice Cream

One thought on “Alchemy

  1. It is a gift from your Grandma that she loved you so much that you do miss her. The people that are remembered are the ones that gave of themselves and made others feel special and loved. Tears are little tributes to her and your closeness – each tear a small way of honouring her memory. You have also found another way to honour her by making her special recipes and sharing food just as your Grandma would have done. Another gift from a wise lady.

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