(by Sarah Zeversenuke)
Every week, everyone in my family got dressed up in our Sunday best (my twin brothers
begrudgingly) to make a trip across London, Ontario, in our big white station wagon to
visit my mom’s parents. We never arrived empty-handed, usually with a hand-crafted
card, a new photograph of the family or some artwork carefully crafted out of macaroni
noodles and string for Grandma.
My mother and her mother shared the same first name, Sylvia, and a special bond. Mom, the fourth of six children, was always thoughtful to her mother, purchasing yarn for her when she saw it on sale, picking up magazines or other trinkets she thought her mother would enjoy. They would spend time going over knitting patterns, talking about game shows, and catching up on all the things that went on that week. I understand now that the commitment my mother had to visit my grandmother every Sunday wasn’t out of obligation. It was pure love, and the desire for her own children to have a close relationship with her mother too. My mother and I visited my grandmother on her last day on earth, and I saw one last time that special bond they shared as they talked about the cute doctor that was tending to my grandmother.
Whenever we arrived at Grandma’s, my brothers would race to the piano, knowing that I wanted so badly to get there first. So instead, I would visit upstairs with the adults, often watching my grandmother putter around in the kitchen. I can vividly remember her humming the same tune, “La da dee, la da dah,” while putting the tea bags in the pot, pulling freshly baked shortbread cookies out of the oven, and arranging them on a plate with the blue Dutch windmills on it. Piano forgotten, this was my favorite part of our visits. She would carry a full tray to the living room. I would follow and sit at the little footstool in front of the coffee table. When I asked for a cookie, without fail Grandpa would say, “That will be twenty-five cents,” and my response was, “Put it on my tab.”
(Four generations on my maternal side)
Mom didn’t inherit Grandma’s love for baking. Instead, we spent hours playing board
games and setting up tents in the backyard for overnight adventures. Drive-ins and
scary movies were all things I enjoyed as a kid with my own mother. Although baking
skipped a generation, my mom gets to see that reminder of Grandma through my own
love for baking. It was only natural that when Grandma passed away, I was the lucky
one to inherit her recipe books. And I was so happy when I discovered, in the back of an
old cookbook, her recipe for her famous shortbread cookies, written in her beautiful
handwriting. I carefully pull out the book at least once a year and bake, often with my
own daughter’s help, humming like my grandmother did and remembering her fondly. I
never did get a chance to square up my tab, but I look forward to the day when I can
start a tab with my future grandchildren and enjoy Sunday sweets together.
Sarah Zeversenuke is the director for an agency within the developmental sector,
assisting vulnerable people to live their best lives. She recently discovered a passion for
acting and has written and produced her first screenplay. She can be found on
1/2 c. cornstarch
1/2 c. confectioners’ sugar
1 c. sifted flour
1 c. butter, at room temperature
Preheat oven to 300 F.
While humming your favorite tune, sift cornstarch, sugar, and flour together, then blend
with the butter.
Form into 2-in. balls.
Place 2 inches apart on a greased cookie sheet, and gently press flat with a fork.
Bake for 20 - 25 minutes until the edges are golden brown.