When I was only a few months old, my mother’s grandfather passed away. The man from whom Leigh gets his middle name, Nathaniel Walker, was only in my life for a short time. I obviously don’t remember meeting him but that doesn’t mean he didn’t have a presence in my life. He obviously did, we named our first born after him!
I start with this short story because my paternal grandmother passed away yesterday. Berenice Drakert was 88-years-old. She leaves behind seven children, 15 grandchildren, and nine great grandchildren (I’m sorry if my count is wrong; let me know if it is!). Leigh is one of them. We took him to meet her when he was eight days old. She wasn’t very responsive but she gave us a small smile when she saw him. I’m happy they were able to connect and I hope that one day he can be happy he was able to see her.
Grandma Berenice was a strong Polish woman. She raised her family in a three bedroom brick house in Chicago. I don’t even know how she fit all her kids in the small kitchen at meal time. Her husband passed away when my dad was young. She never remarried.
My parents are divorced and when my dad would pick us up for weekday dinners, we’d go to Grandma Berenice’s house because she lived in the city and my dad’s place was nearly an hour away. She’d cook up chicken thighs with frozen green beans or a pork roast with baked potatoes. She would to stick the potatoes with giant nails so they cooked faster. There would always be polish sausage boiling in a pan on the stove. She’d make jello with fruit in it for dessert. On birthdays, she’d buy a small square Pepperidge Farm frozen cake that would usually defrost by the time we went to eat it (sometimes it was still frozen in the middle).
She had small glass dishes she’d serve canned pears out of. One of the things we registered for when we got married were “pear cups,” because she had them. Pears were one of her favorite fruit. I am not particularly fond of pears but Eric once jokingly told her they were my favorite and since then she’d always served pears when I visited. During the holidays, we’d send her a box of Harry and David Royal Riviera Pears. She’d call to thank us and stress that they were the biggest pears she’d ever seen. It made me happy to make her happy.
I hope there are big, juicy pears in heaven for her. She deserves it.