In The Corner of My Grandmother’s Kitchen

A few days ago, my family drove down from Massachusetts to North Carolina to pack up my grandmother’s house. This isn’t a sad story; she’s simply moving to Florida. At age 90. On her own. I still can’t believe that she is perfectly capable of purchasing a new home and driving the 10 hours there alone in her Cadillac, but then again, I don’t know why I’m surprised.

My grandmother is not like most. She isn’t moving to Florida to escape the cold weather, or to retire to an old folks’ home, or to avoid managing a home that is too big for her. She has no interest in spending her days inside baking muffins and watching reruns (although, she does love a good Days Of Our Lives episode). Nope, she’s moving to The Villages for the stand-up paddle-boarding, the organized croquet games, and the concerts. She’s moving in search of action, not relaxation.

While helping her determine which of her few items she was going to take with her, we discovered a few old cookbooks in the corner of her kitchen. I asked if she would be taking them with her, to which she responded with a dismissive wave and a disgusted look. “Oh, Heavens, no,” she said, “I’m not going to be doing any cooking!”

Of course, I thought to myself. Grammy is too busy playing golf and pickle-ball with her friends to cook. Her kitchen is about as barren as it gets — and not for lack of resources, either. Her empty refrigerator and cobwebbed cupboards are by design. She goes out to eat every single night for dinner, rotating between Cracker Barrel, Golden Corral, and Perkins. When my husband offered to make her dinner, she reluctantly agreed (but only because he is a classically trained chef). He asked her for a baking sheet, and she had no idea where it was. Unsurprisingly, he ran into the same problem in asking her for most of the other cooking essentials he needed, too.

Along with lots of her other unused kitchen items, I took home the cookbooks, happy to have some from her generation to add to my collection. One particular title stuck out to me, and I started flipping through it. It was made by the Women’s Society of Christian Service of the Wesley Methodist Church in Worcester, Massachusetts — a place held very close to the heart of both sides of my family. My grandparents were married in this church, as were my parents. Both my mom and dad grew up very involved there, from Sunday School to cheering alongside the church basketball team to volunteering in holiday plays. My parents are six years apart, and never participated in the same activities at Wesley, but eventually met (and later got engaged) at a weekend retreat organized by the church that both of their families frequented. When my husband and I got pregnant two years ago, naming our son Wesley was a no-brainer.

Photo from Unsplash.

While skimming the outdated pages of this cookbook, scrunching up my nose at casserole recipes and glancing skeptically at upside down cakes, I came across a page that caught my eye. It was titled Take Time for Ten Things. Intrigued, I kept reading to find a list of ten incredibly simple yet inspirational mantras to live by. Pleased with my unexpected find, I chose to take those mantras as a sign that beauty can be found anywhere we choose to look for it, even a worn-out, makeshift cookbook from the back of your grandmother’s cabinet.

  1. Take time to work — it is the price of success.
  2. Take time to think — it is the source of power.
  3. Take time to play — it is the secret of youth.
  4. Take time to read — it is the foundation of knowledge.
  5. Take time to worship — it is the highway of reverence and washes the dust of the earth from our eyes.
  6. Take time to help and enjoy friends — it is the source of happiness.
  7. Take time to love — it is the one sacrament of life.
  8. Take time to dream — it hitches the soul to the stars.
  9. Take time to laugh — it is the singing that helps with life’s loads.
  10. Take time to plan — it is the secret of being able to take time for the first 9 things.

I encourage you to go out into the world today look for beauty wherever you go, and take your time.

I’ll tell your story.

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