Things Passed Down
- Part I-
A week ago, she left this earth. My Gram. Claire Ruth Lannes Wauer. I think about her a lot these days. And I miss her. This week as I've reflected on her life and the legacy she's left behind, I've seen her in my children.
I see her in Rebekah Claire. Besides sharing her name, Rebekah also loves a good mystery. She has a keen eye and a quick ear.
I remember when I was in high school Gram sent me a boxful of mystery novels she'd finished. Gram was always reading a mystery. Always watching detective shows on television. And with Grandma, you could NEVER get away with ANYTHING! That woman was on you like a hawk! As if she'd read every sneaky plot known to man.
Rebekah's also become interested in knitting, crocheting and cross-stitching as of late.
Grandma knit each of us grandkids an afghan when we graduated from high school (something to cozy up the dorm room), and I have several cross-stitched pieces she's made. There's a Hummel pattern she did for us as a wedding gift. She cross-stitched my children's names, and even did some Christmas stockings for them. Tonight, as our family met to remember Gram, one of the things Rebekah chose to bring home with her was a pair of her great-grandmother's knitting needles.
I see her in Ellie, my little cook.
Grandma actually collected cookbooks- several of which she passed down to me over the years. Make-A-Mix Cookery, The Fondue and Buffet Cookbook, a few small editions from local civic clubs and a smattering of hand-written recipes on notebook paper. Pineapple Upside Down Cake. Plum Kuchen. Chocolate Pudding.
Ellie is intrigued by all things baking and cooking. Hers are the first feet to patter into the kitchen when she hears the clank of mixing bowls. "Whatcha cookin', Mom? Can I help?" Ellie likes to pore over cookbooks and dream about the dishes she could make. While her skill is obviously not to the level most cookbooks require, she fancies herself a chef and likes to dream of the day that she gets to be the cook at Rebekah's bed and breakfast. (They've apparently got it all worked out.)
I must confess I'm not the best mom to cook with. My eyes focus on the billowing flour, the sneezing on the dough, the eggshell dropping in the batter, the little fingers getting burnt on hot pans. But I'll try to do better, Gram. I'll strive to be worthy of your cookbook collection and your giant stoneware mixing bowl. Maybe Ellie and I can learn how to make your chocolate pudding from scratch.
I see Grandma in my Anna-boo. Gram was plain and simple with her words. A straight talker. You knew you were loved, not by the gushy words she poured over you, but by what she did. She cooked for you. She made you things. She spent time with you.
Anna is much the same: a "do-er." To my motherly chagrin, Anna is not a real cuddler. Rather than snuggle, she's busy, busy, busy doing things. She likes to help sweep the floor. She brings me errant socks when she sees I'm gathering laundry. I always have to give her a damp paper towel so she can follow behind me and scrub the cabinets in my shadow. Anna just seems to have an innate sense that love is demonstrated more in action than in word alone. (Very James, Chapter 2, isn't she?) The motto for Grandma and Anna would be "A little less talk and a lot more action!"
Anna is still young yet. I look forward to seeing more of Grandma's qualities in her as she grows and matures.
Yeah, I miss Gram. But I smile when I recognize her in her great-grandaughters.
This evening, Dad was telling us about his last visit with Grandma before she passed away. The first thing she said to him when he walked in her room was, "What are you doing here?" Not that she wasn't glad to see her son, she just didn't think she was worth the fuss of hopping a flight from Washington DC to Omaha, Nebraska. Even on her death bed.
Isn't that like Grandma? Right to the very end.
But the other thing she said to Dad that really touched me was, "I have so many books I still want to read."
Grandma still had plans. She still had things she wanted to do. For some reason I found that statement very hopeful and comforting. I found a kinship with my Grandma that we BOTH have "paper lanterns". I look up at mine from the daily chores of motherhood and wonder if and when I'll ever get to them. Some, I've had to release forever. Others I still like to keep around for the elusive "spare moment."
Grandma looked at her paper lanterns from her hospice bed. She wasn't going to have another spare moment. She was releasing her paper lanterns forever.
Tonight I wonder, what was the last paper lantern she took down?
You can read more tributes to Claire Ruth Wauer on my sister's blogs: