I normally blog in a lighthearted fashion, admittedly leaving out the lowest points of my life. In fact, I’ve typed about 30 drafts that I don’t ever plan on posting. Saved in the archives, some things are just too personal to publicize. Writing is cathartic for me, but you guys probably don’t want to read about my I’ve-gone-crazy-after-work or my I’m-being-overdramatic-and-oversentive problems. Wait, do you?
Today is a bit different. I originally saved this to my diary of unpublished drafts, but quickly changed my mind. I’m posting this one.
It is with a heavy heart that I mention the passing of my grandmother. While the news was in no way a surprise, it certainly didn’t make the phone call any less painful.
My grandmother suffered from a stroke and was diagnosed with lung cancer in a matter of a few hours last May. To say we were devastated would be an understatement. Weeks and weeks of physical therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, and therapy therapy ensued. She wouldn’t walk again despite her best efforts. She wouldn’t paint or write again, at least not with her right hand. She wouldn’t really ever speak again, aside from the occasional word or short phrase.
It has been agonizing in so many ways. We all wanted to fix her, but there was no miracle cure. We all wanted to make her happy, but how? We all wanted so badly to get her back to her normal self, but wanting wasn’t enough.
Months went by. Grandma grew weaker.
Our Thanksgiving was really incredible this year. My mom wanted to make it memorable as it would most certainly be my grandmother’s last. We kept the event low-key, family-oriented, and tasty – the perfect holiday in which the work to fun ratio was heavy on the fun and low on the work.
Before shoveling food into our mouths, we chanted a quick ‘Grace.’ I snatched the bowl closest to me and began filling my plate.
” We … … …. are… … … … blessed,” stammered grandma. The statement sounded forced, a valiant effort to say something she wanted to say, a task her brain rarely allowed.
I remember looking up at her, a few of us mutterered things like ‘mmhmmm’ and ‘of course,’ and on went our thanksgiving feast. Blessed? Us? Her? Now?
Her debilitating stroke and cancer diagnosis couldn’t cast a shadow large enough to cover the good she saw present in her life.
My grandmother wrote me quite a few lengthy emails over the years. My grandmother talked my ear off on the phone on more than one occasion. My grandmother even wrote a book about our family ancestry, and yes, it’s more than 1 volume. Conciseness wasn’t really her thing.
As it turns out, her greatest and most meaningful statement to me would also be one of her shortest.
Truth be told, we’ve all been mourning the loss of my grandma since her stroke last May. Life without my grandma has been and will continue to be different. I will certainly miss her homemade cookies, her consistent mispronunciation of the word ‘jalapeño,’ her pride in her German-American heritage, and her long (oftentimes painfully one-sided) political rants. However, I find an enormous sense of peace in knowing that her fight is finally over.
As my family prepares for the next chapter, the next days, the next Thanksgiving, the next battle, I hope that we continue to remember that despite it all,
we are blessed.
A fitting recipe for this day would be my family’s schaum torte, but I haven’t made it for a long time and I don’t have any pictures. Also, I’m scarred from a 6th grade ‘heritage project’ that required me to make 200 servings of schaum torte. As it turns out, my mom and I weren’t the best with whipping egg whites in the late 90s. One of these days, I will make it again. In the meantime, I will perfect my egg-white whipping skills with this recipe.
3 egg whites, room temperature
pinch of salt
3/4C fine bakers sugar (see note)
1/8tsp cream of tartar
1/4tsp vanilla extract
2tsp instant espresso powder
2/3C mini chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 250. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Using hand mixer, beat egg whites and salt until frothy, about 1 minute. With beaters on high speed, beat egg whites while slowly incorporating the sugar (1T at a time). Continue beating until stiff peaks. Beat in cream of tartar, vanilla, and espresso powder. It will take 3-5 minutes of beating to achieve peaks.
Fold in chocolate chips.
Drop 1/4C of mixture onto prepared baking sheets. Bake for 30 minutes. Rotate the pan and bake for another 30 minutes. Turn off the oven, but keep the cookies inside. Allow the meringues to cool completely while still in the oven, about 3 hours.
Once cooled, enjoy or store in airtight container.
Note: I ran regular granulated sugar through my food processor for 1 minute instead of buying fine sugar at the store. Worked fine for me 🙂