My grandma loved to cook, and her meals were extravagant. At Christmas or Thanksgiving, there was often several kinds of meat offered, from roasted turkey, ham, or roast beef. Her mounds of mashed potatoes were legendary. Her specialty was baking pies, and when she got a bee in her bonnet she would make an entire pie for each person in attendance. She always wore the same apron when she was preparing meals, one my mom had made her, with apples representing each grandchild. We were her life, and she would do anything to make us happy. That included driving hours to see a volleyball game, sending a card for every little holiday (especially St. Patty's Day), and coming up with crazy nicknames to call us. (I was always known as MacDougal.)
Her life was spent serving others. Even in her eighties, she would show up at her church when they asked for volunteers to clean or work. She had a heart for animals, and would take in strays, feed them, take them to the vet, keep them, or find them homes.
My grandma was so supersticious. She would never hand you a knife, step over you if you were on the floor, or open an umbrella in a house. She hid a half dollar in one of my presents at every birthday party, and every Christmas.
I once watched my grandma laugh so hard at a Three Stooges skit that she slid to the floor and cried. These are the memories that sustain me.
Many adults do not have the blessing of grandparents, and I was extra blessed for my kids to have had great-grandparents. The realistic side of you realizes it's only a matter of time before aging loved ones pass, but it didn't make her passing any easier for me. When I lost my grandparents last year, there was a pain I wasn't expecting. The grief washed over me at unexpected times: the playing of a hymn, the glimpse of a picture, and a thousand other subtle reminders. The impact of their lives have been permanently imprinted on mine.
I am so thankful for my grandparents, and the example they were. They worked extemely hard, and knew what was most important in this life. They prayed for each of us every night on their knees, pleading that God would bless our lives, protect us, comfort us. I often wonder what blessings God has granted me because of their earnest prayers, said with bent head, clenched hands, and humble hearts. I simply cannot put into words the gratitude I have to them, and to God for placing them in my life. I miss them, but I am assured I will see them again one day. In the meantime, I have memories that will last me a lifetime, and recipes that will make my belly (and yours!) happy. On that note, I have posted the recipe for Grandma Carter's applesauce cake, which was always a fan favorite. Grandma would have been 86 this week. She couldn't live forever, but her memory will.
My grandparents at my graduation from Ohio State.
Grandma plays with Hud when he was just a little guy.
Grandma and Grandpa in a moment that represents them best.
Grandma Carter's Applesauce Cake
1/2 cup Crisco
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 cups applesauce
4 cups flour
2 t. baking soda
2 t. cinnamon
4 T. water
A pinch of powdered sugar
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream together Crisco, butter, sugar, and applesauce.
2. Add and stir dry ingredients. Batter will be very thick. Spray cooking oil in 9" x 13" pan. Spread mixture evenly.
3. Bake for 45 minutes.
4. Dust top of cake with powdered sugar when cool. Enjoy!