The back door was always open in the summertime. When the wind blew through the screen, the chimes that hung outside would ring. The wind brought in a fresh smell of flowers, grass, and warm summer air. Whenever I smell a summer breeze, I remember the summers gone by spend in Grandma Vargocko's kitchen.
My grandma was a very special and wonderful woman. In my view, she was a very strong woman, but very loving at the same time. She has seven children, twelve grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren at the time of her death. During her lifetime she had to undergo the teenage pregnancies of a couple of her children, the loss of one her sons, and eleven years later, the loss of a grandson, who just happened to be the child of her lost son. All of this did not make Grandma a bitter woman though. I believe that it made her stronger and more loving to the family that she so proudly called her own. The memories I feel compelled to write about are happy memories though. I want to remember the days I spent at her house in Valparaiso, Indiana before she moved to Kentucky, and long before she was stricken with cancer.
Whenever I stayed at Grandma's house, I would wake up long before Grandma did. I would go into the kitchen where Grandma would already have a glass of milk in the refrigerator for me to pour into my cereal along with a glass of orange juice, always in an amber-colored class that I always thought had finger prints on it because of the design in the glass. I would climb onto my yellow chair, that was really more like a stepladder, but I didn't care, it was mine. I poured my milk and ate my cereal at the brown table under the low-hanging lamp with the yellow lampshade that my uncle Matt always hit his head on.
After breakfast, I would go into Grandma's room always thinking I was being sneaky. Some days I would crawl under the warm covers and cuddle up to her, while on other days I would jump up and down on the bed screaming" Grandma! Grandma! Get up!" Of course, she was always awake before I entered her room and she never got mad at me.
I would go through my morning watching cartoons and playing in the yard, but always knew that it was time for lunch when Grandma went to the freezer. I cannot remember anything I ever had for lunch there, but I remember what Grandma ate. Every day at about 11 o'clock she would go to the freezer and get out the hamburger patties. She used a butterknife to separate the pieces of waxed paper that divided the meat. She cooked her hamburger in a black cast iron skillet and always ate it on two slices of sandwich bread, never a bun. To drink, she always had a glass of chocolate flavored Carnation Instant Breakfast.
I don't remember my to have ever been the cookie-baking, apron-wearing type, but she always took care of all of us. She always had Grandpa's dinner ready, complete with sliced tomatoes and salt and pepper shakers. She always served it to him in his chair on his t.v. lap tray just as he liked it. Grandma would sometimes prepare some of the Slovak dishes that my grandpa loved so dearly, and sometimes she would even let me help. Grandma always let me make chocolate pudding no matter how big of a mess I had made with the electric mixer the previous time. The one thing that she could never understand though was why I had such a hard time waiting for the five minutes to pass that it took to set the pudding.
It seemed as if Grandma always knew where I was and what I was up to no matter how hard I tried to get away with stuff. She would be lying on the couch with her eyes closed listening to "Days of Our Lives" just as she did every weekday. I would quietly sneak into the kitchen for some cherries from the crisper, but before my hand ever touched the door, she would say, "Get out of that refrigerator. You're not hungry."
Grandma was kind of sneaky too. I just figured out last year that she tricked me every New Year's Eve that I spent with her. After what seemed like hours of begging, I would finally convince her to let me stay up until midnight. She always said that I could stay up until the Times Square ball dropped. This past year, I noticed that the ball dropped at eleven o'clock in *our* time zone.
My grandma was a kind woman, but she was tough when she had to be. Once, with her leg in a cast and crutches under her arm, she walked with me over a wild field full of thorny plants and weeds to take me to play on the the playground. She was always there for me to climb onto her lap while she rocked in her orange rocker. She loved me unconditionally, but she always kept me in line.
There are so many memories that I have of my Grandma. She was such a sweet woman. I loved her very much and I miss her every time I smell a sweet summer breeze.