Eddie wishes he had more time with Gram Krut. “I just didn’t have very much time with her,” my 7-year-old said at the news of his great-grandmother’s passing just shy of her 101st birthday.
For Eddie, Gram Krut was that nice old lady we’d visit in that place where the Amish’s horsedrawn buggies shared the road with our SUV. She was the smiling, quiet woman who’d in recent years keep a watchful eye on our extended family’s holiday festivities from a perch on the sofa, share some candy or treat, and then head to bed ahead of him.
In years to come, Eddie and my other sons will learn that Gram Krut was a wonder. She inspired with her can-do-ness, her go-forwardness. She’d lived through World War I, World War II, the Depression, Prohibition, the Vietnam War, hippy days, women’s lib, the Cold War, the Wall falling, booms, busts, TV’s start, computers’ start, the Internet’s start. Holy lord a century is remarkable.
And yet for my husband, for my sons, and for me, the time she spent on Earth is not enough. She died last night, a few days after having coming off a feeding tube, a couple of weeks after having a stroke, less than a year after moving into an assisted living apartment. She was at rest and peaceful, the most wonderful way one could leave this life, it seems really, if that has to be the case. To say she was impressive or amazing is an understatement.
Sophia Krut left school in the tiny Pennsylvania town of Mount Union at the age of 14 to help her family by working in the local clothing factory. She and her husband had John’s mom and three boys, a bustling home and neighborhood. Later, when work at the local brickyard flagged, she opened a beauty shop and would operate salons for sixty years, serving as a leader in the community, even more of note since she was a woman. She helped found an Orthodox church; she literally led a religion of sorts. Long after retiring and past her husband’s death, she was an octogenarian Wall Street Journal reader, monitoring her investments, asking my husband shrewd finance questions, and then following up with her own adviser. Later in life she still had the pizzazz and energy of so many people half her age but the graciousness to listen as often as she spoke.
Mother, sister, friend, matriarch–so many ways she was defined by the people who loved her even though she adapted her own definitions and roles decade by decade. I’d lost both my grandmothers long ago, in high school, and both had been quite traditional and passive by reputation. Over the occasions we shared, I’d ply Gram Krut with questions, craving her guidance and indeed approval. Gram Krut reset and redefined the phrase “strong woman,” having been that long before it was au courant or even acceptable.
Amid her trailblazing, whether by happenstance or by purpose, however, she cared for her family. And that meant spending ample time in the kitchen, even into her 70s and 80s. With a hug and a shrug she started, it seemed, the extended family’s tradition of homemade food to go at the end of a visit. The coup de grace? Her pierogi. Boy they were hard won. She kept ziploc-bagged pierogi by the dozens at the ready; she and others would make them in the church’s basement, and we’d all hope to have some at her always-ready table–and for some to take with. We’d have platefuls of buttery, oniony, potato-and-cheese-filled pillows of love.
Early on in our marriage I asked her to share her recipes–and she did but with eyebrows raised. She’d caution that pierogi are better made assembly-line style than solo; she’d much later give her conspiratorial approval at Mrs. T’s frozen ones in deference to convenience. Everyone loved her raisin cookies too, also tucked into airtight bags for sharing. I wanted to learn to make them, too, like Eddie says about so many new activities, to do it myself. Gram Krut warned me that the cream cheese dough was hard to work with. I’d scoff and then my version would be a pale comparison.
She knew that her culinary success wasn’t the list of ingredients, the exact proportions of ingredients, in either recipe that mattered so much as the pressure of her hands, the feel of a dough, the confidence in her motion, the rhythm of her movements around whichever kitchen was her workspace. Home life, she recognized, requires effort. When we first met about 20 years ago, when John and I were newly dating, she raised her eyebrows at me too, wondering at the footlong height difference between the two of us. “You’ll make it work,” she said.
Through the years she offered recollections of seemingly simple times of the past and without complaint conveyed their difficulties. She was matter of fact and thoughtful at once, brushing off how she was ahead of her time with a wave of her still-elegant hand. Still, I recognized all that I stood to learn from her wisdom and experience. When she noticed our fussing kids or listened to our little updates on our faraway day-to-day, so many decades behind her successes, she only gave advice when we asked, so unassuming and graceful. To have had two decades’ more time with her was a big blessing. And to celebrate her 100th birthday with scores of relatives from around then country and even across the globe was a big honor. On a recent visit to Pennsylvania she told us in astonishing detail of the dances she and John’s grandfather attended, of their courtship, of their immigrant enclave, of her grade school friends and of the ups and downs of parenting. We knew that each story was a jewel for us to treasure. Death is different when someone has lived such a textured, long life and passes. There is solace in celebrating her legacy. But like Eddie, I still wish I had more time with her. How can it be that 100 years seems not enough? We’ll just, as she might suggest, have to make it work. It’s for this www.topspyingapps.com/facebook-message-spy reason that the us$300 dollar xiaomi mi 5 is far more exciting