My grandmother, Betsy was, shall we say, a bit odd. She was one of a kind. Her schedule was so rigid that you could, at any given time, know exactly where she was and what she was doing. Seriously. When she was in the hospital after a stroke that she had at her club playing cards with the girls, her hairdresser called my father to see where she was. She never missed an appointment. Never.

So when she didn’t show up at our house for Thanksgiving dinner in 1987, we knew something was wrong. She never woke up that day. Her newspaper was at the front door. There was a glass of orange juice by her bed. And she was gone.

I think about her often. I know I was her favorite grandchild (sorry sibs). As a young adult, I used to go over to her apartment and we’d talk. She was very open-minded and had very strong opinions.

She told me stories and fed me M&Ms. Sometimes, she’d have baked goods in the house. When she did, they’d been made by her housekeeper. Surely, not by her.

My grandmother told me never to get married. “Live with the guy,” she said. Her husband (who died before I was born) was outlived by his mother, who lived with them. Oh, what fun that must have been. So my grandmother’s mother-in-law was like the woman of the house. She cooked and took care of everything. It drove my grandmother crazy. So crazy, in fact, that she took a job. And since a paying job was unseemly for a southern girl of a certain background, she took a volunteer job. A full-time volunteer job. At the local hospital.

I have a yellowed newspaper article that talks about when she was honored at a luncheon for volunteering more than 10,000 hours to the hospital. And from what I remember, she worked there for nearly 10 more years after that.

And speaking of articles, she was famous for cutting out and mailing articles. If she thought you’d be interested, she sent it. She saved me the JUMBLES from the paper and sent them when I went to camp, too!

Some say that I write a lot of thank you notes. I can tell you that I got that from her. She was a letter writer, extraordinaire. And her handwriting was so distinctive that you knew it was from her before you even really looked at it.

This was a note (with a check!) that she sent me after I took her to see my apartment in 1983 – my first apartment after college. It was half a house with a slanted floor and a faint (or not so faint) scent of eau d’cat. But I loved that place. And she wrote that she thought it was lovely. It was not that lovely, but she would never have said that. She probably hoped that the check would pay for a cleaning job, but she wouldn’t have said that either.

Anyway, I think about her and miss her often. But most of all around Thanksgiving. I light a yartzeit candle every year.

So when my mother found this recipe yesterday, it seemed particularly timely. She emailed me a scan yesterday.
I should point out that my grandmother was a horrendous cook. So, if you dare to try this recipe, try at your own risk. (I can’t help myself. I have to make them!) Also know that she was a fan of sinkers, not floaters. If you’re not a matzo ball connoisseur, that means that they are heavy and rock-like rather than fluffy matzo ball goodness.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.


8 thoughts on “Yartzeit.

  1. that’s really nice that you shared these special things about your grandmother. i noticed she signed her letter “nana.” that’s what i called my grandmother, too.

  2. My grandmother on my mother’s side was Nana, too. What a lovely tribute to your grandmother Wendy. Thanks for allowing us to know who she was.

  3. Wendy, what a lovely post. I really enjoyed that. My Nana is in a nursing home in Annapolis and Finley and I visit every Tuesday. I miss her house, the smells of spaghetti and meatballs, but I’m lucky to have her close by. And I’m grateful that Finley has gotten to know her Great Grandma.

  4. Wendy,
    Thank you for sharing such a lovely story about your Nana. I always learn something from your blog too. I have Jewish friends but the topic of conversation doesn’t usually involve a yartzeit candle – but if it does, now I’m in the know!

  5. Thanks Maven. Yes, Nana G. My other grandmother was ALSO Nana. She did NOT like to be called Nana Plain (meaning no G 🙂

    Cruisin – Thanks. Nana seems to be really common. I never knew!

    Megan – you are doing a wonderful thing to have Finley know her. I remember my Great Grandmother really clearly & it’s so nice!

    Mary – Thanks and I’m glad you learned something new. It’s funny, your post months back about the tall rainbow candles (Catholic?) reminded me of yartzeit candles!

  6. Your gran sounded fab. What a way to go, fall asleep and stay that way, very sensible and refined. i will regard the sad face on the recipe as a warning not to attempt it.

  7. Wendy,

    I truly love these honest, personal touch/memory/slice-of-life posts. Thanks for sharing your Nana with us.

    The only grandparent I knew, my mother’s father, died when I’d just turned 4…over 42 years.

    Glad you had a Nana into your adult years…

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