Tossing a baseball around in the yard with your dad, baking cookies with mom, playing dolls with your sisters – all great childhood memories, just not ones I remember.
Granted, these events probably took place in my life; however, for some reason or another, I’ve managed to block out majority of my childhood. From what I remember, I was a normal child living in a two-parent home until my teenage years; however, the memories of “good times” prior to my parent’s divorce rarely emerge anymore.
Tonight, though, something emerged on its own and for the first time in a long time, I missed being a child – a time when life was simple and the lessons learned involved chocolate pudding.
As my kids were begging for a nighttime snack, I opened the pantry and discovered a box of cook and serve chocolate pudding and for a brief moment I just stood there staring at the box. All of a sudden, it was 1985 and I was standing in my Grandma J’s kitchen next to the sink (“zinc” was how she pronounced it). With a wooden spatula, she stirred the chocolate pudding on the gas stove as my younger sister and I anxiously waited for it to finish cooking.
Just about that time, Grandma J. pulled out the gray Tupperware pudding dishes and poured the pudding into each dish. It seemed like hours before we could eat it, but the wait is what I remembered the most.
In our jammies and with Grandma J. in her thin plaid pajama shirt and bottom, we would sit at the round, wooden kitchen table and listen to her talk about our grandpa. She’d tell us about how he would do anything for us grandkids and how proud he would be of both of us because we played the piano. She’d talk about his love for music and how he was a regular at the race track – a regular, not a winner.
We were intrigued, not just because we were up way past our bedtime, but because we never got to know him like the rest of the family did. We were young when he lost his battle with cancer and too young to know if the picture Grandma J. painted was biased or accurate. But most importantly, it made me think about how I would remember Grandma J. when I grew up.
As I finished cooking the bubbling pudding for my own two children tonight, I sat down at our kitchen table and memories of my Grandma J. (known as Nana J to the great grandkids) emerged in full force. I told my kids about how she was at every soccer and softball game, rooting us on and yelling at the referees, all while wearing her signature green visor. I told them about how she would take me and my younger sister to piano lessons each week, pick us up from school when we were sick, and chase us around the house with Bactine when we had a scrape. I told them about how she always had a candy bar and a soda waiting for us in the bottom right-hand drawer of the fridge each time we came over and how she made us cook and serve chocolate pudding when we stayed overnight.
I then thought about the picture I painted of my grandma in her younger years and was certain that I was accurate, just as Grandma J. had been all those years ago when sharing Grandpa’s strengths, dreams, and admirations. I realized that our memories are powerful because we shape them, because we need something to cherish, and because it is how we choose to remember them.
I’m still waiting for more childhood memories to emerge, but in the meantime, I’ll continue making memories with Grandma J. “This is the best chocolate pudding I’ve ever had in my entire life,” my 9-year old son tells me. “It can’t be the best,” I said, “because Nana J. still makes the best.”
– Shannon Philpott
Blog Entry: July 18, 2009
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2 thoughts on “Reminiscing with Chocolate Pudding”
Teary eyed! Grandma J. is the best!
what a wonderful tribute. I hope I am this loved and remembered by my grandchildren