My maternal grandmother was born on March 11, 1909, which makes today her 101st birthday. Oh, my grandmother was something! Some people just emanate love; she was one of them. She was good-natured and funny and could cook like nobody's business.
She understood simple pleasures, decades before it was trendy. I can remember one summer evening, all of us sitting on the front porch while she and my mom sat in rocking chairs, shelling peas and talking as the sun set. Just remembering it now brings me a slow, deep breath of contentment.
She loved barbecue. Or maybe she loved us, and we loved barbecue. Either way, anytime we were with her, we ate barbecue. Sometimes it came from Sadler's, but just as often it came from a dodgy-looking trailer alongside the highway. To this day, I think barbecue tastes just a little better if you feel like you risked life and limb to procure it.
With today being her birthday, I wanted to take my children for some scary barbecue in her honor. I knew just the place, but I also knew that Scott would skin me alive if I took them there alone after dark. (big grin) Nice, safe chain barbecue was absolutely out of the question, so I thought a moment and came up with another simple pleasure she enjoyed.
Ice cream. I would have preferred--as she would have preferred-- her own spectacular (and, sadly, unduplicatable) homemade variety, but more than once we indulged at "The Polar Bear" or "The Churn" so I decided "going out for ice cream" was also a fitting tribute. She was definitely not impressed with "that soft stuff" that McDonald's served, though. In fact, I think the closest she ever came to telling me "no" was when I asked for a cone of that. She wrinkled her nose and said, "Goodness, why would you want that soft stuff? Let's go to The Churn."
We have a little ice cream stand not to far from us called JoJo's, which has been closed for the winter, but opened for the season just in time for her birthday. While we sat at one of their picnic tables with our treats, Katie asked me, "Does your birthday die when you die?" I thought for a second before deciding, no, I think your birthday carries on as long as there are people who want to celebrate your life. She seemed to like my answer, and jumped up from her seat, looked heavenward and called out, "Happy birthday to my great-grandma!" That moment was the high point of my day.
What would a boy get, if not a worm sundae?
And nothing says celebration like a chocolate cone with rainbow sprinkles. Lots of rainbow sprinkles.