When I was in high school, girls would sometimes wear/write/use the phrase "G.R.I.T.S" GIRLS RAISED IN THE SOUTH. Now, while that is quite the thing to be proud of (both the location and state of mind of being "southern"), any time I think of grits, I think of my Grandma Maxine.
See, my mother is from "up north". Washington State, to be exact. My dad is from Louisiana, but when it comes to preparing menus, shopping, and cooking, the mother is generally the one that dominates that area and my family was no different. So, we did not eat grits, or collard greens or anything super southern, as a general rule. So, when my younger brother and I, at the age of about 5 and 6, went to live with my grandparents in Jonesville, LA for a few months (military transfer, school semester, and parents who wanted us to no move to a new school with just a month or so to finish the year is how I remember it)...you can imagine my leeriness towards these gritty, white, bits smothered in butter.
My brother, Jason, liked the grits. He ate the grits up. He asked for more grits while licking his spoon.
Me, on the other hand...I did not. I thought they were salty. I thought they were lumpy. I thought they were gritty. And I was going to have none of that. No-sir-ee.
However, you did not challenge my Grandma Maxine or Grandpa McClure. You ate what you were given and said thank you at the end, like it or not. (Or at least this is how I remember it) So, for three (four? two? I can't remember but I am sure my dad will leave the correct time frame in the comments section) months, I had to eat grits for breakfast. In my mind, looking back...I had to eat grits every.single.day. It could be possible that once my grandmother saw I did not like the grits I got toast and eggs, but I do not remember that. I only remember grits. And how I thought "Grits are Gross."
Overall, I have very fond memories (though very hazy) of spending time with my grandparents and two uncles who still lived at home. We got money each day for snacks at school, we played outside all the time, and we were loved. It was a good time. However, the first thing I think of is always my enemy, the grit.
Other then Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Cookie Crisp that I had for my very own not having to share with three siblings at the age of ten when I went to visit my other set of grandparents, I do not remember a single food item ever consumed at breakfast as a child. And to this day: I do not eat grits. I will not eat grits. I do not even force my children to try grits to see if they like them.
My Grandma Maxine passed away this week, after a short battle with cancer, and her funeral is today in Jena, LA at 2 p.m. I didn't know her as much as I'd have liked, but as an adult, we developed a bit of a relationship thanks to facebook and email. Some people might think social networks and all this time people spend on the internet is a waste. Not me. Because of social networking, I got to communicate with my step-grandmother, something I would not have otherwise done. I was able to build up a little bit of a relationship with her so that I have a few more memories then grits. Because of the internet, and sending emails, I made sure I got to go visit her when we went home to Louisiana. I might have let that relationship fade even more had I not.
As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, I believe with all my heart and soul that we can be reunited with our family when we die. That we can return to Heaven and find the same joy and happiness we have here on earth, only magnified greatly. I know that I will get to see my Grandma Maxine again, just as I will get to see all the others I've lost. Any time I did visit Grandma (after my grandfather had passed away and we'd moved to NE), she always had a smile and a hug and something good to eat, and I know when we are reunited, that she will have that same smile and a hug ready and waiting for me...maybe even a pan of peach cobbler. Heck, it's heaven...maybe we can go swimming in her peach cobbler!
Until we meet again, Grandma. All my love.