The Mom in the Mink-Collared Sweater
(by Kim Marshall)
For most of my childhood, my family—brother, sister, and Mom—lived with Mom's parents in Ohio. Grandpa made us plant a garden, and we sure got the benefit, deep in our cells, of all those fresh and freshly canned veggies. Gram even canned the pears from a tree in our back yard. Buckwheat pancakes–with gravy!–on weekend mornings. Beefsteak tomatoes so good that my mom would sit in the garden with a saltshaker and eat them right from the vine. Rhubarb that grew alongside the barn was stewed with sugar—I loved it so much that I once tried licking remnants off the kitchen counter and chipped a tooth.
Everyone was welcome at the table. One of the oldest of 13 children, Gram would stand at the sink and, looking out the kitchen window with a big smile, ask, “Who just drove in?” since cars were always heard on the gravel driveway. “Pull up a chair,” she’d tell my aunts, uncles, cousins, neighbors, or church friends. Years later, when I moved to Los Angeles, I tried dropping in on a few friends. It didn’t take long to learn that we weren’t in Ohio anymore.