I just attended a memorial service for my grandmother who was the last of my grandparents to go. She was a great person, but strangely I had a hard time remembering my time with her. I remember the times when she thought that I, a girl, maybe not as frilly as she wanted me to be, was supposed to wear dresses and gussy up, so she would take me shopping to make sure I looked at least remotely like a girl. She was a mother of 5 sons, so I have a feeling, being her first granddaughter, it was just as much fun for her as it was for me. I remember more recent times when dementia had a hold of her. I was barely pregnant with my third child who is 8 years younger than the oldest, and 4 years younger than the second. All my children have the same father… my husband. When I told her that I was expecting my third, she said quite frankly, “you sure do get around!”. There was dead silence around the table, I am sure due to the shock of that comment, then a burst of laughter as we all realized how funny it actually was. Still, after only a few solid memories, I had a hard time digging up more memories that I have of her.
It wasn’t until the memorial service that the memories came flooding in thanks to the wonderful testimonies from my uncles and cousins who stood up and told the audience what they remembered. One memory was ignited when my cousin mentioned the kinds of foods my grandmother would serve. She would often cook well-balanced meals, not too fancy, but good. One night she decided to serve us something that was close to her heart, something that she enjoyed with her family when she was a child.
Although she had fond memories of what her family ate at the dinner table, she knew full well that her grandchildren may not have had the same fondness if they knew what it was, or where it originated from. As my cousin described it, she tried to pull a fast one on us.
As my cousin, my brothers and I sat at the small round table, deemed as the kids table for that night, we were served our meal. It looked normal, a meat and potato style dinner, although the meat looked a little different. I recall we were watched closely by our grandmother that night, which was in itself strange since she would normally sneak a bit of time at the beginning of dinner to start the dishes. I remember her pushing us to just try a little bit of the specially prepared meat. My brother cut a piece and put it in his mouth, chewed and swallowed it. He’s always been the adventurous one. Okay… he was fine, so I guessed it was okay for the rest of us to try it.
I don’t know if I was the one, my cousin was the one, or if we did it at the same time, but someone decided to turn the chunk of meat over first to examine it before it was cut and placed on our delicate palates for our expert juvenile taste critique. That’s when the deal was broken forever, for on the other side of the meat chunk were hundreds of little taste buds! Our grandmother tried to serve us cow tongue! Now, after seeing those ugly taste buds looking back at us, there was no way in heck that we were going to eat that meat… ever! My brother remembers sitting there in disgust that the meat that he had already chewed and swallowed turned out to be something so unappetising.
It’s funny how a night that was so gross and horrifying turned out to be a fond memory, something that we now laugh about together. I guess in a funny kind of way, we did share our grandmother’s fond family memories.