Grandma has always been a very special person to me. Tonight we celebrated her 80th birthday. Since grandpa passed away two years ago we simply appreciate grandma in a new way, knowing that life is nothing to take for granted.
As a little girl I loved going to dawdys’ (grandpas’) house. Much to my delight when I was eight years old they moved from the large Amish community in Homes County Ohio to our little community here in Flat Rock, Illinois. Dad, his brothers, and other friends helped them build a house only a half mile down the road. It really seemed too good to be true. We especially enjoyed the times we stopped in at their house on the way home from church. It never took grandma long to get out her popcorn popper and pop enough popcorn for everyone.
Occasionally I even got to go to their house for the night when my parents would go on a trip that wasn’t practical for me to go along. They would always spend time playing Candyland with me which left me feeling special and loved.
Years have passed since then. I have come to appreciate grandma in new ways. I sense in her a deep commitment to God and accept the difficulties that come up in life. That is the way I want to be when I’m her age. The practice stage starts now, right?
Back to her birthday party. Grandma has always been the type to plan surprises for others, especially for her children and grandchildren. Her 80th birthday seemed like an excellent opportunity to spring a surprise on her. She was surprised, indeed when her children and grandchildren kept popping in on the evening of her birthday. When we arrived with our little ones she met us at the door, giving me a big hug telling me how delighted she was that we had come. I assured her that it was well worth the chilly one mile walk. (We had a little enclosed cart that we pushed with the youngest three snuggled into it.)
The hours that followed were filled with visiting, eating, and of course some good games of Carom, which is a favorite activity at grandma’s, especially so for the uncles and older cousin boys. Interestingly enough the Carom board they use is the one grandpa made over 20 years ago. I always think it’s fun to watch how involved grown men can become and how much fun they have when playing a simple game as such. Besides the Carom game grandpa made many unique items for his children and grandchildren as well as some to sell. In his younger years he had a welding shop where he fixed and fabricated all kinds of things besides also running their dairy farm. Fixing buggies was also on the list of things he did at one point, in fact he made a covered wagon-type buggy for our family when I was five years old. To me grandpa could do anything. In more recent years grandpa made lots of smaller items such as houses for Purple Martins and foot benches that us grandchildren bought from him. This generated a little money for them and proved to be excellent keepsakes for most of us 48 grandchildren. These benches were not like an ordinary little bench, many of them had a variety of five to seven different types of wood, all crafted into one beautiful piece.
Now spending an evening at grandma’s does seem empty without grandpa, yet we know how eager and ready he was to go to his home in heaven which helps us a lot. Sometimes I just long to sit down and talk with him again and ask him all kinds of questions. At any rate, life is where it’s at right now, I just feel blessed to have had the connection I did have with him for the past years.
After a while it was time to bundle everyone up and head for home once more. It was a good evening and well worth going to bed a bit later than usual.
By the way, my children are now the ones who like going to grandma’s (their great-grandma) when I need a baby-sitter while I go to town and can’t take them along. She always takes time off from her quilting to spend time with the children as well as giving them pretzels and crackers to snack on.
It’s a blessing for me to see my children, the next generation, enjoy my grandma.
Following is a recipe for baked chocolate fudge cake that we’ll be having tonight at Grandma’s birthday party. It is an old recipe that we have used countless times to be served with ice cream.
BAKED CHOCOLATE FUDGE CAKE
3 tablespoon shortening
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk
1 cup flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup cocoa
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups boiling water
Cream together shortening and sugar. Add milk and next three ingredients alternately with creamed mixture. Pour into an ungreased 9 inch pan. Mix brown sugar, cocoa, and salt. Sprinkle over top of batter. Do not stir.
Pour boiling water over all. (The water and cocoa mixture will go to the bottom of the pan as it bakes, creating a chocolate fudge.) Bake at 350 for 40 minutes or until cake seems to be done. Serve hot or cold with ice cream, whipped cream, or milk.
Readers with culinary or cultural questions or stories can write Gloria directly at Gloria Yoder, 10568 E. 350th Ave., Flat Rock, IL 62427-2019. To see more on the Amish go to www.amish365.com.