Four Birthdays and A Funeral

July 28th is a special day in my life….So many birthdays in my family.

 

My BFF Lance. My cousin Evan. My quasi-cousin Jennifer. And it was supposed to be the day my first born came into the world.  But he had his own ideas, and arrived two weeks early.

But most notably, today is my Granny’s birthday.

My Granny was a babe

My Granny was a babe

My Granny—Neva Lee Knight Gough— would have been 87 years old today. But instead, she died ten years ago, and left a hole in my heart that will never heal.  All of my grandparents are gone now, and of course, I loved them all.

But my Granny and I had a special bond.

My Beautiful Granny

My Beautiful Granny–at 14 (YES, 14!)

She used to hold my hands in hers—my hands were always very hot—and tell me that I had healer’s hands, that my hands were hot because I had healing energy that passed through them, and that it was a special gift.  I didn’t really understand at the time what she meant, but I grew to understand as I got older.

She wasn’t talking hocus pocus kind of stuff. I wasn’t going to touch someone and have their cancer go away.  Although, if you have muscle aches and pains, my hands are always hot enough to soothe them. Like little heaters they are.

But I think what she meant was this: at the essence of me was a nurturer, like herself. Like she before me, I thrive on touch, and caring, and wanting to make everyone better. Whether through holding and rocking a sick child, nursing an injured person or animal back to health, or preparing a pot of soup for a sick friend, our hands stay busy at the command of a servant’s heart.  I am forever rescuing or saving someone or something, in little or big ways, just because it’s how I do.

Since her passing, I still feel her presence sometimes in the kitchen.  It’s sometimes so strong, I actually think I feel her hand on my shoulder, and hear her whisper my name. Maybe it’s just because she died ten years ago, and left a hole in my heart that will never heal.  Before you think me crazy, let me tell you that a few years ago, others heard it too.

It was Christmas day, and I was preparing the family Christmas meal—the thing my Granny had done every year up until she was too ill to do so. I was in my mom’s kitchen, by myself, cooking away. At that time of year, I always feel her presence more—like she wants to make sure I get it right, and this year was no exception.

My mom’s kitchen is galley style—long and narrow, with an entrance at either end. My sister and her husband were sitting at the far end, just inside the dining room. I turned to walk out the other end, to go do something….as I turned the corner out of the kitchen, I heard a very firm, deep whisper “Chris”, over my left shoulder. Feeling certain that my sister or brother-in-law had just called me, I turned back in to the kitchen going toward them….just as my sister was coming my way saying “what was that?”  “I just heard someone say your name…”

I almost lost it then and there, and it makes me cry like a baby, because I fully believe that in that moment, my connection with my granny was so strong, that someone else actually witnessed it.

I think that sometimes, when our loved ones pass, a part of them stays behind for those that need them the most.

When she died ten years ago, and left a hole in my heart, I did her eulogy.  It was the hardest thing I have ever done, but I had to do it.  I thought the best way I could honor her today on her birthday, was to share with you the words I shared on the day we said goodbye to her.  The hole will never heal.

I didn’t save it—it wasn’t even written down. But I had been preparing it for a few years, from the day I knew I would lose her sooner than later, so it’s never really left me….

Just before I stood to ascend the steps to the pulpit, I thought I wouldn’t be able to do it after all—I wouldn’t be able to speak any intelligible words through my grief. But then something weird happened—they wheeled in her casket, draped in a silk cloth, and placed it at the front of the church.

*********************************************************************

 

I want to thank all of you for coming to honor my Granny.  I also want to ask that those of you that have been friends with my Granny and Pop for so many years, please don’t forget my Pop now. He’ll need your company more than ever.

For those who don’t know me, I am Chrissy..the oldest grandchild.

When my Granny started getting sick a few years ago, I knew this day would come. And I knew that when it did, I would have to stand up and speak about her, because no other person had as much impact on who I am today than my Granny.

Yet a few minutes ago, I didn’t think I could do it….didn’t think I could face you all and utter words that you could understand, rather than sob. But then they brought her in, and the instant I saw she was in here, it was like a burst of the Holy Spirit filled me, and I knew it would be okay. It is so like my Granny to do that—to make something so palatable.

Anyone that knew my Granny knows she was always in the kitchen, showing her love in one way or another with food.  Ninety-eight percent of my memories of her, were in the kitchen—any kitchen—doing for others.  I learned from Granny to show love for others through food.

Many of you in this room were annual recipients of a big plate full of fudge, and divinity, and fruitcake.  Starting in November, her house would come alive with the smell of cloves, and cinnamon and ginger, and the sounds of mixing and chopping and stirring and pouring.  We grandkids always got to lick the bowls.

If you were sick, many of you received homemade vegetable or chicken noodle soup. If you were lucky, a loaf of homemade whole wheat bread to go with it.  Of course there was always extra for her grandkids, served warm with generous lashings of butter.

All of the Incarnate Word Sisters in here benefited from her cooking skills year after year, at your Pounding Party, and Christmas Party, and many other events at or benefiting the convent.  I always remember her making eggnog—-real eggnog with bourbon in it—and stirring in the whipped cream. I marveled at it, but could never drink it.

For her kids and grandkids, we got our favorite meals for our birthdays..Chicken a la King for me, Mexican Spaghetti for my Pop. Chop-Chop for my dad.  Good report cards and other achievements were similarly recognized.

My grandparents were not wealthy, but she gave so much of her heart to others. I never remember seeing her cross, or angry, and she had this laugh that would make everyone in a 100 foot radius laugh out loud.  It was loud, like a Mexican mariachi yelling “aye, aye, aye”, and it was filled with unabashed joy.

The Native Americans have a saying that goes:

When you are born, you are crying,

And the people around you are laughing.

You should live your life so that when you die

The people around you are crying, and

You are laughing

 

And my Granny did that. Every single day of her life.

So I know that today, she is sitting at supper with Jesus, and knowing her, she probably prepared it.

*****************************************************************************************

 

So that was it…Those were the words I said about her, when she died ten years ago, and left a hole in my heart that will never heal.

 

When I want to feel even closer to her, I make one of her dishes….Here are some I have shared with you before. (Click the picture to be taken to the recipe)

Salmon Patties, with the requisite peas, and ketchup.

Salmon Patties, with the requisite peas, and ketchup.

Comfort Food!--Mashed Potatoes and Hamburger Gravy

Comfort Food!–Mashed Potatoes and Hamburger Gravy

Chicken N Dumplin's, Fluffy Style

Chicken N Dumplin’s, Fluffy Style

image

Beef Vegetable Soup

Beef Vegetable Soup

Seven Minute Frosting

Seven Minute Frosting

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Categories: BAKING, children, dessert, Family, Food, Holiday, recipes, Texas, writing

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32 Comments on “Four Birthdays and A Funeral”

  1. 2014/07/28 at 2:36 pm #

    Oh Christine – that heartache never really goes away, does it? Thank you for sharing that sacred, sacred moment in your life. I didn’t get a chance to give a eulogy for my Opa – but gave the eulogy for my dad, which, like you, 10 years later, I wrote down. http://wp.me/pNE4Y-8H – Take care – and thanks for sharing all of these stories – it’s things like those stories that keep them alive in our hearts.

  2. Your man
    2014/07/28 at 3:39 pm #

    I haven’t actually shed a tear at anything I’ve seen, read or heard in many a years, but I had to wipe a few away while reading this!

    I love you, babe! I’m glad you had your granny and your whole family to influence you the way they did. I’m also glad they like me!

  3. Lance
    2014/07/28 at 4:17 pm #

    Beautiful and touching.

  4. 2014/07/28 at 4:54 pm #

    A lovely tribute from a beautiful granddaughter and you mastered 7 minute frosting, too! Quite a feat.

  5. 2014/07/28 at 5:32 pm #

    Thanks for sharing that. I feel like I missed out not having known your Granny, and now I am missing my Pawpaw!

  6. 2014/07/28 at 6:39 pm #

    Your granny is just so beautiful and so special!

  7. 2014/07/28 at 7:57 pm #

    Your granny was beautiful, and the joy she shared with you was a treasure. I had a similar bond with my grandmothers – both of them – and their passings have left “holes in my heart.” So funny the things grandmothers cook no matter where they’re from!
    The Native American words are perfect.
    Thanks for your post today – I salute your grandmother…and you… for loving her so much.

  8. 2014/07/28 at 8:41 pm #

    What a lovely tribute to your beautiful granny. I love that even though she’s gone, you still have a connection to her. I think the ones we truly love never really leave us.

  9. 2014/07/28 at 9:40 pm #

    How lovely of you to share this Christine. Thank you. I so miss my Oma too and all her wonderful recipes.

  10. 2014/07/28 at 11:24 pm #

    Your granny was really beautiful and I am sure she was an extraordinary person.
    You moved me with that speech…

  11. 2014/07/29 at 7:27 am #

    Reblogged this on iconobaptist and commented:
    Fabulous tribute to her granny, who taught her to cook!

  12. 2014/07/29 at 8:06 am #

    Great job by a great lady for a great lady. You are absolutely right … the ache never goes away … but the memories are always there.

  13. Evan
    2014/07/29 at 11:18 am #

    You left out your fabulous last line, “Save your fork, the best is yet to come!” I still have my gold fork from the service. And I still have and use her (very old, but still kickin’!) stand mixer while I’m cooking and baking out at the ranch. Nothing reminds me of Granny like the kitchen. Thanks Chrissy. 🙂

    • 2014/07/29 at 5:30 pm #

      Yeah….I left out the whole fork story. …I thought about it, but left it out. Not sure why…

  14. 2014/07/30 at 8:22 am #

    So beautiful! Thank you for sharing. I am shedding some tears (and I’m sitting here in public!). My grandmothers, too, have passed and I miss them dearly every single day. I am forever grateful for having such wonderful, loving women like them in my life.

  15. 2014/08/04 at 7:45 am #

    What a lovely remembrance! You’ve shared her with us

  16. 2014/08/20 at 10:42 pm #

    Thanks for sharing this with your readers. Your grandma is really gorgeous but more than her pretty face, I must say that she left some words of wisdom that are good to remember.

  17. 2014/09/04 at 7:34 pm #

    What a nice tribute. 🙂 And, of course, the recipes. Catherine went to visit family this past (Labor Day) weekend and I treated myself and the kids to salmon patties — I just needed the comfort. I thought about our ‘throwdown’ (has that been 1-2 years now?) while I was making them and ended up plating the damn things as if I were going to shoot a picture. You know that my requisites are fried potatoes/onions and Heinz 57 sauce. (Canned peas are a requisite for porcupine meatballs — another of our ‘throwdowns’ in years past.) By the way, the kids wanted ramen and/or frozen pizza instead of my salmon patties. Shame on them.

    • 2014/09/04 at 7:53 pm #

      Sometimes kids are just douche bags…. Lol. I’d have joined you for salmon patties

  18. deadmousediaries
    2014/09/11 at 8:18 am #

    Hi, Christine. I’ve been a follower for a while and we traded some comments long, long ago but I wanted you to know I shared your site in my blog post (www.mitchellkyd.com) last night. I offered some “Kyd Picks” of my favorite blogs, etc. and yours was one of them. Here;s the excerpt: hope I haven’t given you any heartburn!
    For your body: (well at least your taste buds) check out http://www.texanaskitchen.com. I love this blog! Mild-mannered HR manager by day (my words, not hers), blogger Christine Friesenhahn is a sassy Texas writer, competitive chef and self-admitted foodie in her off hours. Like me, she is a story-teller. She has a quick wit and great understanding of the word plays that make topics sound naughty even when they’re not. Check out posts like: A Boy.. a Tape Measure.. and a Foot-Long Weenie or God Save the Queen and Spotted Dick. She’s a mom and wife and I can totally relate to so much of what she writes about –except the ending of her posts. Every post includes some incredible recipes, complete with photos, that let you know that she’s as creative in the kitchen as she is at the keyboard. All of my really good friends know that the kitchen scares me so I try to avoid it but that doesn’t mean I don’t drool like Pavlov’s dog when I read Christine’s recipes for things like Beer Bacon Peanut Brittle or Peanut Butter Ice Cream with Cayenne Spiced Bacon and Pecans. You can also find more of her incredible edibles on Pinterest. Mitchell Kyd

  19. Anonymous
    2016/07/29 at 6:45 am #

    Yes, Granny was a Beauty and her food was prepared with lots of Love. I think that’s why you changed career and became a Chef. Wish you a Marvelous day, TC and GB.

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