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December 1, 2011

Thanks for all the giving

Jeffersonville — Last week, my extended family was fortunate enough to share another Thanksgiving meal prepared (mostly) by our grandmother.

The cream corn was hers. The chicken and dumplings were hers as well. Other dishes — appetizers made by my cousin, a turkey deep-fried by my uncle, a dessert baked by me — were not from her kitchen, but were all inspired by my grandmother. I’m sure every member of my family would agree that she gets full credit for any food preparation savvy we have accumulated in our lifetimes.

Two months ago, I lost a grandmother who I will think of every time I pass a Catholic Church steeple or see an avocado-colored appliance. I wrote a column in her honor, praising the values she passed on. This Thanksgiving, it occurred to me that I waited too long to write that column. Of all the people I would have wanted to read it, she was at the top of the list.

You live, you learn.

The grandmother who made the cream corn for Thanksgiving this year — cream corn that tastes so good my daughter calls it “magical” — is 94 years old. She is the mother of six children, grandmother of 19 and great-grandmother of 15. She plays cards more nights than I cook dinner. She volunteers at our local hospital. And, right now, probably as I am writing this column, is sewing miniature aprons for her great granddaughters.

In my lifetime, she made both of my prom dresses and a wedding veil that was lined with beautiful, hand-sewn silk roses to match my dress. I still have the quilt she and her mother made for me when I graduated from high school. My daughter’s bed is covered with a quilt she put together not so long ago.

On Sunday afternoons, you will find a majority of my family around her kitchen table (and the smaller table in the sun room) savoring her fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy. Some Sundays we get lasagna. Other Sundays, it is roast beef. We always have dessert and every meal begins with her announcement, “God bless everyone.”

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