It’s my husband’s birthday on Wednesday. This past weekend we celebrated with his family and at my husband’s request, I made him an apple pie for dessert. I’ve made many apple pies before but this one was special….
I love baking. It’s such a relaxing activity. I often go into a reflective state of mind. I could never be meditative while baking; my mind often drifts to memories of long ago. It pauses at happy moments; it floats through sad ones. It circles around memories of friends and family. It ebbs and flows through all the places that my hectic everyday life doesn’t permit me to visit.
As my hands rolled out the dough for the pie crust, my memories rolled out as well. I pushed the rolling pin and as a sea, the dough moved with my memories. My thoughts then stop to visit my paternal grandmother. A slight smile comes to my face, and my eyes begin to water. Every time I bake, I have moments that I pause and think about her. A beautiful woman, full of God, who delighted in so much. Gardening, picking berries for pies, picnics, pressing flowers, singing hymns, bird watching, playing the tambourine, and baking… these are just a few of her activities that encompass some of my fondest memories of her.
As a little girl, I spent hours in her kitchen, watching her move gracefully from the counter, to stove, to sink, to fridge. When she baked, it was an elaborate sort of dance. Whisking, mixing, kneading, rolling… the apron around her waist could pass as a tutu and her dance partners, the wooden spoon and mixing bowl. She crafted divine recipes with ease. As she poured her batters or filled her pie crusts, she hummed or sang hymns. Her kitchen was warm, full of love, and full of God.
It seems odd to speak of the living in the past tense. You see, my grandmother currently lives in a long-term care facility, and she has Alzheimer’s. My heart aches every time I visit her. I long to sit with her, to bake with her, to talk with her, but her words are not her own. She only echos the words she hears. However, she can still sing. If you start a song, she will sing along, sometimes remembering the words before you say them. It’s a beautiful gift that God has given us so that we can still connect with one another.
Tears start to run down my face. My mind goes back to the pie crust that I am pressing into the glass plate. I wish I could share my delight in baking with her, as this only recently became a hobby of mine. How I wish I could ask for tips, share recipes, and stand in the kitchen with her… that I could show her my dance, the dance that I learned from her.
I also wish I could share my love of God with her. I can only imagine how much she would delight in knowing that I found my place in God’s forgiving arms. Her heart was always full of God. She radiated pure joy and love for Christ. She took joy in everything but delighted in the small things that most people would overlook… the ladybug crawling on a leaf, the bird hopping on the lawn, and the one cloud in the clear blue sky.
My mind wanders again to a summer over two years ago. My Grandma and Grandpa came out to my parent’s lake lot. I was shocked at how the Alzheimer’s had taken her. I hadn’t seen her for almost four years and was devastated by the “loss” I felt. She parroted the words I said, but mostly she sat quietly in her chair. At the end of our visit I embraced her and said, “I love you, Grandma.” She looked me squarely in the eyes and said, “I love you too dear. You have a good life.”
Those were the last “coherent” words I heard from her.
A smile came back to my face. I can hear her voice in my head. She’s singing… “This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine. This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine….”
Thank you, Grandma. I have a good life, and I’m going to let my light shine… as I learned from a woman who’s light shone brighter than the sun.