Please forgive the long lapse between posts. I signed off on December 20th, knowing that I would be busy packing and getting ready to be away from home for over a week. We traveled to Texas to be with my mom & sister for Christmas.
My 93-year old grandmother, who has been living between my aunt and my mom for the past three years, had been ill since Thanksgiving. She had to be moved to a nursing home in Fredericksburg, my hometown, about three weeks ago, but was admitted to the hospital last Thursday. Between my mom, my sister Maggie, my aunt, and me, my Meme was never alone. One of us (or all of us) was always with her. Chris stayed at Mom's house with the boys while the rest of us were with Meme. Her failing health was a little dark cloud over our Christmas gathering. But for the happiness a family shares, so, too, must they share the hard stuff.
Meme had a terrible night on Monday and Mom & I stayed with her through the night. She passed away on Tuesday morning.
I snapped this shot of her hands last Sunday afternoon. She was having a little visit with Maggie and I at the hospital. Her hands folded into this peaceful pose, and I couldn't resist the opportunity. Knowing I did not want to photograph her face, with the oxygen line running to her nose and her moments of grimacing in pain, I chose her hands instead.
Meme's hands have seen a lot since 1917. They held the reins of a horse as she and two of her thirteen brothers and sisters rode it to a country school. Her hands picked cotton. During World War II, her hands worked in Houston factory as a "Rosie the Riveter" building war planes. Her hands worked in restaurants, taught children physical education at a Catholic school, sewed wedding dresses, quilts, clothes, and drapes (and Barbie clothes for my forlorn little dolls). Her hands raised two daughters. Those hands pulled her through the water as she swam a mile nearly every day at the "Y". They planted gardens, canned produce, and hauled firewood. Her hands buried two husbands.
Chris, the boys and I just returned home this evening, and on Monday I will fly back to Texas for Meme's funeral. If I can squeeze out a recipe or two between now and then, I will really surprise myself. But cooking (and now blogging) is my therapy, the way I sort and process not only ingredients but also emotions. Between our shifts at Meme's bedside, Mom and I prepared braised lamb shanks for Christmas dinner. Mom has taught me so much about cooking, and working side-by-side in her kitchen was a treat for us both. I photographed some of the steps, so we'll see if I can remember enough to publish a recipe post.
Thanks for checking back, friends.
I hope your Christmas was merry and bright. Mine was, but in a different sort of way. I was reminded that I am a part of a family that sticks together through the hardest, toughest, most gut-wrenching times.
And knowledge of that is one of the most beautiful gifts I could ever receive.