I started this blog a little over a year ago, when my grandmother fell ill. This Wednesday January 30th, will mark the one year anniversary of her passing. I still haven't come to terms with what's happened and it's easier for me to spend every day thinking that she's just at her house in Toronto while I'm in Montreal.
My grandmother was more than just my grandmother. She was a second Mom (I want to mention that I have an absolutely amazing Mom, who has not only made me who I am, but has given me the strength to make my own way, knowing she'll always be there cheering me on. Daddy you're pretty awesome too!). Every day after school I went directly to my grandmother's house. From JK to grade 12. And when it came to University, I was there everyday too - but that's because I moved in. Yup, other kids moved into dorms and I moved into my Avo's house. She was always there. Always. With a cookie, a glass of milk, an ice cream, a hug. She was always there.
I still don't have the right words to put into context what she did for me and how she made me who I am today. I still don't have the right words to capture my grief. But over this past year I've realized that I do have a lot more than I ever realized I did.
I have incredible memories. Memories of merry go rounds at the cottage and trips to the park. Memories of sitting in her garage in 40 degree weather, playing "school" on a chalkboard she had found for me. Memories of her visiting my first apartment and crying when she saw that I had prominently displayed the picture of my grandfather in my room. Memories of her tasting my first challah and giving me the ultimate compliment, "it takes just like my massa!" Memories of her pride when she met M and her love and support when it felt like no one else had any to offer. I have the memories of sitting with her those last few months, listening to her stories about Portugal, her stories about her in-laws and all the struggles she faced. The jokes she would tell while trapped in that bed. How she would beam when talking about my niece, her only great grandchild (and what a great kid she is!). How towards the end sitting there on Sundays, she thought I was my Mom. How she'd thank me for holding her hand for a procedure when she held my hand throughout my life for everything. This incredible woman, in her darkest days showed me that everyone has strength beyond what they expect. She was the epitome of brave, and she gave me the strength I needed to make decisions I had put off. As awful as those last few months were, I am so grateful for the chance to talk to her, the chance to learn who she was and the chance to say I love you again and again while sitting there and before I left, every single time. I don't know how many other people get to have a grandmother who was a second Mom like I did, but I am so grateful for every moment I had.
When I started this blog, it was because all of her recipes and my paternal grandmother's recipes made me feel like I had a connection. I may have chosen a different lifestyle and a different path, but those recipes, having the scent of their house throughout my apartment, gave me the comfort I needed that they weren't far. Baking is so much more than throwing a bunch of ingredients into a bowl and a pan into the oven. It's about so much more than calories, guidelines and meat, dairy and pareve. Baking brings memories back to life. It makes my kitchen smell like my grandmother's and my apartment as warm as her home. It means that I can share with M food that I grew up on, that was made with such love that you could almost taste it. I don't think it's possible to make one of these recipes without feeling the love and excitement of sharing and recreating these amazing postcards of my childhood. Maybe one day I can make them without breaking into tears when the cake comes out of the oven and I just want to jump up and down that I did it! That I could bring this little piece of my grandmothers into my home.
I hope you'll come back and join me this week as I post an update (every day I'm getting closer to replicating these recipes even better!) to very special recipes. Recipes that have given me comfort this week especially and recipes that have given me a connection to family and memories.