Her weekly church supper, hosted in the basement of the fellowship hall, is a gathering of about 180 church-goers whose ages range from 5 years old to, I kid you not, a lady who's 99. She doesn't drive herself anymore, which is the big to-do these days, but she does come occasionally with her son. Or maybe it's her grandson--hard to tell.
Grandma started inviting me nearly 3 years ago when I first moved into town. It seemed like a great way to get to see her every week and get a delicious home cooked meal of feel-good comfort food. Those of you who grew up with church suppers know that no expense (or pinch of salt) is spared on the fried chicken, meatloaf, pot roast, beef tips, casseroles, buttery roles, or mandatory dessert offering. It's a tummy full of happiness that also lets me see my dear grandma, who is in her 90s herself (and driving her own car, she'd add).
At Grandma Dinners, seats are assigned, if not by habit then by the carefully lettered script of people's names on the paper place mats at specific seats. Every week, before I arrive, she gets me a glass of water and a dessert, leaving me to fix my own salad and main plate. Probably wise, as I'm sure she'd give me a heaping plate which I'd happily devour and the shake my fist and curse in her generally, 90-something direction.
Grandma Dinners somewhat define my week. I know, like clockwork, that on Tuesday morning before 8am, she will call my office and leave me a voicemail reminding me about the dinner. It usually goes something like this:
Hi honey. It's your Grandma Isabel. Tomorrow's Wednesday and I wanted to remind you that we're having dinner up at the church. It's (papers rustling) meatloaf night. I'd love to see you. Seems like I never see you these days. I hear from mom that you're really busy. Well, call and let me know if you're not coming, otherwise I'll see you at the church. 871-7...
Yes, my dear grandma, who has lived in the same house since my own mother was in second grade, always leaves me her phone number just in case and it makes my day. If I've skipped a week, I get a, "In case you've forgotten, it's 871-7..." which translates to mean that I better get my hiney in gear and over to church supper asap.
I joke about my Grandma Dinners, but nothing makes my week better than sitting down her she and six of her friends over dinner at our paper-covered table of eight. My aunt is usually there, so I can catch up with her, and sometimes my cousins come, crowding out other members of our standard part of 8, but no one seems to mind.
It's a wonderful thing having people you're happy to see each week, and who are happy to see you, and it makes my heart swell to see these friends, some who have known each other for double my lifetime, come together every week and catch up on aching bones, bridge scores, and neighborhood gossip.
When I'm going blue around the temples, I hope to have a church family just like them, and maybe a granddaughter or two that I can guilt...
Honey, it's your Grandma A. Haven't seen you in a while. Hope to see you this week. Give us a call at 871-7...