Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Juicy Fruit and Chocolate Syrup...

On a random whim, I reached up and threw a can of Hershey's Syrup into my cart a few week's ago. I can't remember why. But tonight, when I spied the can sitting so serenly on the refridgerator shelf, I knew it was time to bust that baby open. It had been entirely too long since I had had chocolate milk.

As I drizzled the dark chocolately goodness into my milk, a wave of the familiar washed over me, but I had nothing to link it to. Then as I took the first sip, it all came back. As a kid, my Great Grandma Edna always made chocolate milk with Hershey's Syrup when we came over. Hershey's Syrup was specific to her, because at home, we only made it with Nestle's Quick.

As I sipped my milk, the indulgence took on a whole new dimension as I let my mind drift back to being a kid in my Great Grandma's kitchen. I was remembering how she'd mix the syrup directly into what was left in the gallon of milk because she said that Great-Grandpa Harry would finish what we couldn't. And just as I was about to finish the last drink of my milk, I realized that I was crying.

What the hell? Crying? My Great Grandma died when I was in 4th grade. I imagine I cried the day that she died, but its quite likely that I have not so much as shed one tear for my beloved great grandma for well over 15 years. Honestly, I can't even remember when I thought of her last.

But here I was, in my dark kitchen, slurping chocolate milk, and shedding tears over my great grandma. I don't suppose they were sad tears. Just tears of memory if there is such a thing. I remembered the way she looked when you caught her without her wig on, and how funny she sounded when she didn't have her teeth in. There was always Juicy Fruit and Dum Dums in the laundry room cabinet and Schwans Fudge Pops in the garage freezer. (Yes, our family's culture is one of food!) She loved to sing songs, play Sorry, and watch the Price is Right. We used to practice and practice all of the games, in preparation for the day that Bob Barker told us to "Come On Dooowwwwnnnn..."

Probably my most precious memory was a day when I was flipping through her photo albums for the 100th time, laughing at funny pictures of my grandpa as a kid. This time through the album, I noticed a long list of names on the very back page, 29 in total. She noticed me reading the names, and explained that those were the names of all of her foster children she had had over the years. She sat down next to me and told me about each of the 29 children who she had welcomed into her home and raised as her own for as long as they stayed. I could not and can not imagine what it would have been like to welcome and bid farewell to 29 orphans. It was then that I fully understood the woman that Great Grandma Horner was, and at that moment, I had a glimpse of the woman I wanted to be.

So here I sit Grandma, shedding a few tears for you, 17 years after your death. Thanks imprinting a bit of you in me.

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