No new story today. Instead this is a repost of a story I wrote back in 2012 for Memorial Day. Since it's a day to remember, I thought it appropriate. Have a good day everyone.
Karen was sitting in the kitchen going through her recipe box looking for a particular recipe her husband requested she make for his birthday party. She came across a handwritten recipe that was attached to a card. It was George’s grandmother’s recipe for fresh peach cobbler. As she fingered the card she thought of the first time she met George’s grandparents and the lessons she learned on that first trip and the many consequent trips after that.
His grandparents lived on a farm in Osgood, IA which had been in the family for three generations. George’s father, Jim, had no interest in the family farm and joined the military right out of high school. This caused a rift in their relationship that had never been repaired. Consequently, George didn’t know his grandparents very well and they had never met Karen even though they had been married for over ten years.
When Karen found out that she and George would be traveling within one hundred miles of Osgood on their cross-country trip she suggested he call his grandparents and ask if they were up for a visit sometime over the Memorial Day Weekend. Grandma Jenkins was thrilled with the prospect of having them visit. She invited them to stay at the farm. She said that other than the annual parade she and her husband participated in since he came home from WWII in 1946, they had no other commitments.
Karen and George arrived at the farm on Friday afternoon. George only remembered being there once when he was very small and Karen was a born and bred city girl. Grandma and Grandpa Jenkins no longer ran the farm. Years back they leased the fields and a small cottage to a young couple. As the tenant family expanded, Grandma and Grandpa switched places so that they were living in the cottage when Karen and George arrived. The couple and their children were more like family than tenants and it was plain to see the love that was shared by all.
Grandma and Grandpa spent as much time in the old house as the Barnett’s. Billie Jo worked as a library assistant, so Grandma kept an eye on the kids after school and often had dinner waiting when Billie Jo came home. Grandpa helped Justin in the fields when he felt able but often just did the dozens of handyman jobs that were required on a working farm.
That first Friday evening they had a quiet dinner with Grandma and Grandpa in the cottage. Karen fell in love with them right away. As she watched she hoped that she and George could have that kind of relationship. Grandpa was always patting or touching Grandma when she came near. Grandma had a twinkle in her eye that really sparkled when Grandpa was near. Their love was like a beacon that Karen had never before experienced; certainly not in her marriage, or the marriages of her parents or siblings.
The next day was the parade and everyone was up early. There was a lot of activity at the farm house. Grandma and Billie Jo were getting the food ready for the picnic following the parade. Karen volunteered to help. While they were talking, Justin came into the kitchen. He grabbed a quick kiss and patted Billie Jo’s backside before he was out the door. Karen smiled. There seemed to be a pattern here. Grandma and Grandpa Jenkins must have rubbed off on Billie Jo and Justin. Karen was actually a little jealous.
She remembered attending her first Memorial Day Parade; all the veterans wearing the hats denoting their branch of service. John Phillip Sousa’s music kept everyone in cadence as they stepped along. Grandpa Jenkins looked so proud riding in the lead car. He was dressed in his full old uniform and was especially proud that it still fit after all those years. He and Grandma were all smiles as they waved hello to all the people along the route. Karen had closed her eyes and just pictured them riding in that first parade so long ago. How romantic it must have been - this handsome young soldier and his beautiful bride. How had they kept that romance alive?
At the picnic, Karen and Grandma were alone together while everyone else was either playing baseball or fishing. Karen told Grandma she was having a wonderful time and was glad to be getting to know them. She told Grandma that she felt a little jealous because she and Grandpa were still like sweethearts. She said that she and George loved one another but the passion has ebbed a little bit each year they were married. She asked Grandma her secret.
Grandma said there was no secret. They just loved and respected one another. He was her prince in shining armor. She learned from her mother that if she just treated him that way every single day he would always remain so. She said that she took care of the house and the children and he took care of her and everything else. She always shared her views and opinions and most often he took her advice, but if they disagreed, it was his decision and it was final. She didn’t say anything more.
The next day, Karen and Billie Jo were sitting on the porch shelling peas and Karen asked Billie Jo the secret to her happy marriage. Billie Jo said there was no secret. She basically said the same thing that Grandma had said the day before. Karen said there had to be more than that and Billie Jo just flushed and said they both knew what to expect from their marriage and when they both lived up to their roles there was harmony.
Karen and George left the following day. They vowed to keep in touch and to come visit again. Karen vowed she was going to try to take Grandma’s advice. She told George about her conversations with Grandma and Billie Jo and said she wanted that kind of relationship with him. He told her he loved her and didn’t think their marriage was bad. She said it wasn’t bad but she wanted it to be better. Grandma and Grandpa had been married over fifty years and they still acted like teenagers. She and George had only been married ten and already the passion had ebbed.
Back to the Present Day
Her daughter came into the kitchen then and brought Karen out of her reverie. Sally asked why she was grinning and Karen told her about meeting Grandma and Grandpa Jenkins for the first time. Sally loved visiting with her grandparents but they never talked about their parents. Karen explained about the family rift and how she had come to meet them. She told Sally that meeting them and taking their advice had changed her life. Sally wanted to know the details and Karen told her about the first conversation she had with Grandma Jenkins. She told her there were many more conversations over the years but they were private and someday Sally may find the answers on her own.
When Sally left, Karen went back to her reverie. She missed Grandma and Grandpa. They had passed several years ago. They left the farm to Billie Jo and Justin much to George’s dad’s chagrin. There was a letter attached to their will addressed to Jim stating that since he had not been interested in farming they felt it only right to leave it to Billie Joe and Justin who had put in their blood, sweat and tears over the years. Billie Jo and Justin still lived at the farm, but just as years before they moved back into the cottage and their eldest son and his wife lived in the main house.
Karen felt the legacy she received from Grandma Jenkins was worth more than any real estate. Several years after they visited, Karen received a package from Grandma. It was a short letter addressed to her in which Grandma told her what she thought was the secret to her happy marriage. Along with the letter was an apron. Karen didn’t put two and two together until she noticed another letter in the apron pocket. The letter told her to keep the apron handy. It had many purposes. The most obvious was to protect good clothing while cooking all of her husband’s favorite foods. The not so obvious was to protect her marriage. Wearing the apron, sans any other clothing, had gotten she and Grandpa through many a rough spot. And sometimes, Grandpa would place some well aimed swats at the apron’s opening which also kept their romance fresh.
Karen couldn’t believe that sweet old lady would be so daring and forthcoming. She put the letters away in her keepsake box and tried out the apron that very night. Over the years, whenever their romance was waning, Karen would pull out the apron. It always worked it’s magic.
This Memorial Day Karen was once again working her booth at the fair. It was one of the most popular booths. The booth was called Grandma’s Secret. Her merchandise always sold out
Karen felt the real reason for the booth’s success was a recipe card with the picture shown below that was always included in the apron pocket. The deluxe model included some multi-purpose kitchen tools.
What do you think?
See you later for more Aimless Ramblings.