Friday, June 06, 2008

Michigan Brand

One time I went grocery shopping with my grandma in Warsaw, Indiana. There was nothing remarkable about the trip at all. I can see the shelves in my mind though, and I remember following close to her, and I remember the checkout lane.

And I remember this one thing she said.

You’re probably thinking it is some profound pearl of truth that fell from her mouth, and that’s why I’m re-creating the moment in my blog. But it was only this:

“Michigan Brand cottage cheese is the best.”

That’s what she said. I have no idea why I would remember THAT. I mean, I want to remember some words that come to me in the middle of the night, or bring peace during the storm... The words of my grandmother, startling and eternal. You know, something like that.

But all I have is cheese.

The thing is, there’s so much that I remember from my grandmother and none of it is really words. It’s more…smells and pictures. We spoke together, of course, over the years. But I don’t really remember the words.

I remember the feel of her, and the sound of her voice. I remember her expressions and her wit – you could see that in her eye. I remember the way her fingers, bent from arthritis, would just touch her hair before a picture was taken, a split-second of shy vanity. I remember the laugh that she had for teasing boys – her boys – that revealed pride even while she remonstrated.

I wonder what my children will remember of me? Because I try so hard to make the words that I say to them the right ones. What if they don't remember any words at all?

I can just hear my oldest reminiscing with the others:

"She always said to choose Jif."

The younger ones would nod thoughtfully, while secretly hoping that perhaps there was more to that statement than was obvious...finally accepting with an attempt at pride this legacy: Their mother was a Choosy Mom.

So maybe it's not about words. In fact, maybe I say too many. Who knows what little droplet of verbal minutae they will remember? It could be anything. But if it's not about the words, then it really doesn't matter.

My children will remember my feel. My look. My eyes. My smile. My softness. My laugh. My arms in a hug. My lap.

This brings me some comfort, and some pause.

I'll think about that while I eat my cheese.
I bought Michigan Brand because it's the best.


Joann said...

I hope my girls remember my apologies. My parents never apologized and that always bothered me. I actually had to apologize just this morning. ugh!

I miss Grandma, too.
Loving you.

Lisa Yik the Chick said...

Isn't it funny how much of an impact she had on all of us? We all are better because we knew her!

Anonymous said...

Love yout words, Heather ... never too many!

Regarding ... "I remember the way her fingers, bent from arthritis," I should sasy that your Dad got her eyes ... I got her fingers :(

Uncle Dale

Diane said...

i believe Duncan Hines cake mix is also the best. That's from Gladys.

(I hope I didn't get that wrong, Joann! I know the right kind when I'm in the store and see the boxes but now I'm not totally sure it was Duncan Hines)

Joann said...

Yes, she would only buy Duncan Hines. Of course, she still tweeked it to make it even better. :-)

Anonymous said...

Thanks, cuz. I like your words and imagery, keep them coming!


cjs said...

from now on, I'm only buying michigan brand. and I will think of grandma.

thanks for the memories.

Diane said...

we need more ottava battuta now!

Kelle said...

This made me cry. I remember that exact same 'fix-of-the-hair' with those bent fingers. Oh, how I miss her. And we don't have Michigan brand down here. But I buy Fig Newtons and Lorna Doones even if they get stale and I have to throw them out. I like the look of them in my pantry because I remember seeing them in the pantry, every time I opened the door. Love you!