Rehoboth Beach, Delaware
The place that most reminds me of my Grandparents
In honor of Samhain I would like to offer this tiny glimpse of two of the most influential people of my life, my maternal grandparents.
Their names were Esther and Charles (or Big Charlie to his friends). If you've read my blog for a while you know that my parents divorced when I was 4 and my mom, brother and I moved in with my grandparents.
I have vivid memories of my time there, including the ghost that haunted the upstairs hall - that is a story for another day (and I promise to share it soon), the clover filled back yard, days spent dreaming under the giant maple tree by the back fence and nights listening to the rain as it hit the corrugated metal roof over the shed below my bedroom window.
My grandparents were born in the early 1900's, the teen years, which penalized them during their retirement years but they made it work! My grandfather was a gardener and if he wasn't gardening he was buying food and "putting it up" for later. We had a back porch which was enclosed and the place we would take off our boots and coats when coming in from the back yard. Hanging from the ceiling were bundles of chili peppers and onions. In the basement were potatoes, jams and jellies, canned tomatoes, pickles as well as canned peppers. It was a beautiful sight to watch my"mom mom" (that's what we called her) can fruits and vegetables for the winter and seeing all those colorful jars lined up on shelves in the basement was so interesting to me. I loved the process and the end result was so beautiful and would provide for us for months.
We lived with them until I entered 6th grade.
When I was in middle school my grandfather was injured on the job, he was a factory worker, and lost most of the use of his right arm. This was a very difficult time for my grandparents but again, they rode with what was dealt and decided to make a permanent move to their summer home, a gigantic trailer with a full length sun room on the Rehoboth Bay in lower Delaware. This was the place we spent our summers, fishing, crabbing and playing on the beach. When my grandparents moved south I was worried that I wouldn't see them as often but that wasn't the case. Rather than see them a couple of weekends we got to spend entire summers with them. It was amazing!
My grandfather taught me to drive a boat when I was very young. I could filet a fish before I was 10 and was deep sea fishing with him by 11. I am a morning person by nature as was he. We would be up before dawn during the summer and out on the bay setting crab pots as the sun was coming up. I didn't realize how poor they were until later but during those summers we ate like kings. Of course we caught the food but that was ok. Fresh blue crab, clams, mussels, flounder... yep, the bounty of the sea was our staple food. I stood in the food lines with my grandmother getting milk, eggs and cheese. I watched here scrimp, save, and make do. I saw - reduce, reuse, recycle - as a lifestyle, not a catch phrase. I imagine anyone who has relatives who went through the great depression would understand.
My grandmother taught me to cook and sew. She tried, repeatedly, to teach me to crochet but I looked like a kitten with a ball of yarn, it was EVERYWHERE! Yarn and I have a simple relationship, I use it for doll hair and it doesn't attack. I'm good with that.
Cooking with my mom mom was always informative. She showed me how to make cookies, candies and fudge as well as to make pepper jelly (I am currently tracking down that recipe from a relative) and other amazing foods. She turned scrapple into a delicious breakfast, made biscuits that were light and fluffy and served a coconut custard pie that was melt in your mouth fantastic!
I learned to both cook and sew under my mom moms patient hands. She never rushed, never worried. She just showed me what to do and then let me learn by actually doing it. It was wonderful. I made my own clothes in high school and made my children's clothes when they were small. They didn't fully appreciate my sewing abilities until they started testing me with outrageous Halloween costumes, for instance one year my sweet daughter decided to be a red satin unicorn with a silver horn, another year she was a tombstone - fortunately, thanks to my mom mom I was able to meet their crazy demands!
Many of the things I enjoy today are directly related to my experiences with these two amazing people. I love the ocean and the outdoors, gardening, boating and the water due to my grandfather letting me experience these things with him and I love creating, cooking, baking and taking care of my home and family because my grandmother fostered that within me.
So today, as the veil thins I send my love, respect and thanks to the two people who have most influenced my life! I thank them for taking the time to not only teach but to share with me their passions!