One day this week, I lounged on the couch and took a bite of an applesauce cake my mom had made.
As I put it into my mouth, it was as though I could feel my late grandmother’s spirit next to me.
And she was there, at least in the sense that Mom learned her baking skills from Grandma.
Every time we would walk into Grandma’s house, there would be some kind of pie or cake or other goodie sitting on the kitchen counter, inviting all who entered to partake of it.
That offering was one of many of Grandma’s gifts that linger on in our hearts. The simple baking of a cake.
Grandma loved her kitchen, and didn’t feel comfortable when hordes of us were lingering in her space.
Still, she quietly continued with the task at hand.
She could put on some great feasts.
Up until about 10 years before she died, our family always met for Christmas at her house.
There was always the typical ham and turkey (yours truly often got the proverbial hand slap, for pulling the beautiful brown skin off before it could be carved).
And one staple Grandma had at Christmas dinner was tortellini and chicken broth in the crock pot. I think that was one of her personal favorites.
In addition, there were mashed potatoes, gravy, assorted casseroles, crackers and cheese, chocolates and all other kinds of odds and ends.
There was so much food for our clan that while it was spread out on the stove and the counter top and a card table in the corner by the patio door, the rest of us were relegated to the garage to eat with a space heater to keep us warm.
Which was no problem.
The garage also was Gambling (and maybe some drinking) Central. If I went out there at all, it was just to observe and take part in the boisterous laughter family members shared. But suffice it to say, dice and a deck of cards were also staples at Grandma’s Christmas parties.
So many memories.
I can still close my eyes and walk through Grandma’s house, into the kitchen, the laundry room, the sun porch, the living room, the bedrooms, the bathroom.
I can feel the gentleness and tranquility in the air when she was around. Grandma’s house was always such a place of refuge. And a great place to read. Grandma was a reader for sure, and she passed that love for books onto so many of us in the family
Today, I drive by her house on the way to Toluca, and while the pain isn’t quite as sharp in my heart as it was right after she died, there is still a dull aching for Grandma and her house of refuge, the big yard with the orchard where us kids spent hours playing.
I know time moves on and things change. Fortunately Grandma’s house is still in the family, as my cousin bought the property and rents it out.
So it is not completely out of the family yet. But I obviously don’t feel comfortable pulling in the driveway as the tenant lives there now, and he has made it into his long dreamt-of country home.
And even if the day comes someday for the house and the property and the land to leave the hands of our family, I have no doubt that if I were to drive my car into that driveway, Grandma’s spirit *would* be there, everywhere – in the house, in the garage, in the trees, in the garden, in all the out buildings – larger than life, her imprint on that little piece of heaven on Earth eternal.
SPIRIT MATTERS is a weekly column that examines spirituality in The Times' readership area. Contact Jerrilyn Zavada at firstname.lastname@example.org to share how you engage your spirit in your life and in your community.