Every August, my late-Grandma Larsen organized a family reunion at Kelly’s Grove in Hobble Creek canyon . Every year was the same — bring a family picnic lunch, a dish to share, and a lawn chair; then, plan to spend the afternoon visiting.
When we were kids, we quickly ate our lunches and then played in the ice-cold creek, where we also put our watermelons to keep them cold. We played in the outdoor amphitheater, hiked on the trails and played softball.
Grandma always made Lady Betty cake, raisin-filled cookies, and pink popcorn.
She was an excellent cook and even baked homemade bread into her nineties.
After she died at 93 years old, my mom mailed me a package that held two of Grandma’s aprons. When I saw them, a sweet nostalgia washed over me. I held them up to my face and inhaled deeply, hoping to smell her scent of the Pond’s face cream I always smelled when she hugged me.
I wear one of those aprons every time I cook, and love just taking a moment to remember her.
I remember trying to follow her carrot pudding recipe one year at Christmas time and it was a disaster. There were no directions except “steam in cans or bottles.”
I called her and said, “About how much flour do I need? The recipe just says ‘add flour until stiff.’”
“Oh, I don’t know,” she said, “Just until it looks right I guess.”
“Well, how much cinnamon?”
“Oh, until it tastes good.”
I had to give up on her Christmas pudding.
When I got a job working for President Reagan in the Education Department, I told her I’d send her an autographed picture of him.
“Oh, I’d love that,” she said, without a pause, “because I need some new toilet paper!”
One year for my birthday, I came home to my apartment in Northern Virginia and found my mom and Grandma, from Utah, sitting in my living room.
My mom said, “I worked so hard on your birthday present (a homemade Cabbage Patch doll) that I couldn’t bear to just send it in the mail. So we decided to fly here and give it to you in person.”
We went to Harper’s Ferry one afternoon, and Mom saw a sign for “fresh, hot Virginia peanuts.”
“Oh, I’ve got to get some of those for Bob,” she said, talking about my dad. “He’d love those.”
Grandma said, “You know they won’t be fresh and hot when you get them to Utah, right?”
For the rest of the trip, Grandma teased my mom about those peanuts.
Even when they were packing to go home, Grandma said, “Sandra, I hope you have room for those peanuts.”
By this time, we all had the giggles and couldn’t stop laughing.
Oh, how I would love to have a family reunion and a good laugh with Grandma again.