My sweet grandmother passed away yesterday morning, after a remarkable battle with a lengthy illness. She was 92 and a half years old and I loved her very much. That being said, I will be taking a brief break from posting for a few days to think about her as I will not be able to return home for the memorial service and funeral. (Special thanks to my cousin Kyla for this photo)
I will be writing another tribute to her later on in the week, but I wanted to share a story with you. It may seem a little bizarre, but this is a food blog and it is a story that I think you'll enjoy. When I was 14, our family took a vacation to Hershey, Pennsylvania, leaving our elderly Chihuahua, Mitzi, with my grandparents. Mitzi was 11 and had a heart condition that required her to eat special food. We checked in every few days to make sure the dog was okay, and the response was usually some variant of this:
"How's the dog, Gram?"
"Oh, she's okay. She's not really very hungry, so she hasn't been eating much of her food."
"Well, give her a few days. She'll be fine and she'll eat it."
"She does enjoy fried bologna and cheese sandwiches, though. When I make myself one for lunch, I make her one, too, and we eat them together."
"Gram, she has a heart condition- she can't eat those!"
"But she looks at me so longingly when I have my lunch. I just give her a little bit."
Over the week, a little bit turned into a few bites, and eventually, Mitzi developed a palate for sharing a bowl of vanilla ice cream with Grandma as well. When we went to pick her up, not ten minutes away from the house we received a call that Mitzi had lain down and fallen asleep for the last time, "after a sandwich and a little ice cream," she'd just taken a nap next to Grandma and hadn't woken up. We reassured her that she hadn't done anything to harm Mitzi- rather, she'd given her the best possible care and love that she needed, with affection and nourishment. We should all hope to go in the same manner someday, drifting off after a fried bologna and cheese sandwich and a bowl of vanilla ice cream.
So as you can see, her love for food and kind, compassionate expression knew no bounds. Grammie loved many things, but one of the most special things we shared a passion for was chocolate with nuts. She especially enjoyed Mars Bars, which our family would buy entire boxes of when we chanced upon them at the grocery store, and peanut butter with chocolate. So yesterday, in her honor, I tracked down what I believe to be the only peanut butter and chocolate dessert in Paris (not an easy feat!) and ate it in a cafe.
Gram, thank you for supporting all of my endeavors and helping cultivate my deep appreciation for delicious food. I feel comforted that in her last days, like Mitzi, she was able to be surrounded by everything she loved and rest easy on her way to whatever comes beyond this. I am confident that she is where she wanted to be and is now in peace.