Monday, May 10, 2010

The Invitation




Got a call from my mom on Monday, wanting to tell me about her "food and family" conversation with her own mother. My mom had spent the last two days in the town she grew up in visiting with my grandmother (photo above), who's been living in a nursing home the last year, after decades taking care of herself. My mom visits my grandmother often - every weekend practically, if not more. I don't know what all they come up with to talk about it and it seems that even she's running out of conversation topics.

So, on this last visit, she started asking my grandmother about food and my grandmother's mother (photo at right), who died in a car accident the year my grandmother got married (1937.) My mother told me excitedly about some of the answers she got to her questions - answers that reassured us about certain things regarding Czech food in Texas. Or things that my mother knew, but had forgotten she knew. Eventually, after some satisfying interactions for my mom, my grandmother asked her inevitable question when one of us starts to poke around in her personal past.... "Why are you asking all these questions?"

My mom's first response was "Oh, Mother, you know Steve (my Dad) and I love to cook and can. And you know all the kids (me and my brothers and sister) love anything to do with food." Then she dropped the excuse that's most convenient... "And Dawn's always asking me stuff like this and I don't know all the answers."

Then, my grandmother said the magic words... "Well, tell Dawn that maybe she should come here and interview me." What???!!! This from a woman who would just sort of chuckle when I tried to speak Czech with her and who normally poo poo's any inquiries about her life. I think even my mom was surprised and is now as eager to interview my grandmother as I am. So, that's the tentative plan weekend after next... something I've been wanting to do for a very long time, but thought we'd missed our window of opportunity, since my grandmother's spirits seem to worsen every month. And she always seemed reluctant to talk about herself before... or rather seemed to discredit the importance of her experiences before the answers to my questions were even coming out of her mouth.

There are many, many wonderful stories in her. I have no doubt. I needed the invitation to feel like my interest in her life wasn't just going to feel like pestering her. Maybe she's ready, too, to have someone really listen to who she is, where she's been, what things have been important to her. Sort of like blogging.

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