Grandmother's Illness 1916


It was the week before Christmas 1916. Grandmother was helping Ma prepare dumplings for supper when I heard her say, ''Antoinette, I forgot to mention earlier that I won't be here for supper tomorrow evening. Anna (my Aunt Anna) invited me to come early and have l dinner with them. she's making belinies (a type of potato pancake). Belinies--especially when served with fresh sour cream and cold beer (adults only) was polish food as it's best.

''We'll miss you.” Ma replied. Be sure to leave early and wear your boots; and try to get back before there's a sharp drop in the temperature.”

Grandmother had just finished making all the dumplings smiled at Ma and sald, ''Antoinette, you worry too much about me-- but I do appreciate it. I will try and leave early and I will bundle up.” So far the winter had been relatively mild. The main road was cleared but snow had been plied to the side and it looked like there might be more of the same.

I has envious. I loved belinies. Although they could be made cheaply, Ma seldom made them because they required a lot of work. First you had to grate the potatoes and that was tedious especially since we were a large family. Growing as we were, we had big appetites. I was only 12 at the time but t could eat 8 to 10 belinies! And for our family that required a lot of potatoes. When, in later years, I tried grating potatoes, I encountered bruised and cut fingers. Another trick is to do all this fast enough before the potatoes start to turn black! Other ingredients ' include grated onion, eggs, a bit of flour, salt and pepper..

Shortly after having dinner at Aunt annals: Grandmother complained of Indigestion and abdominal pain. This was followed by nausea and emesis. Aunt Anna did her best to take care of her. A week passed and then another; grandmother was no better, and very weak. Ma was already worried about Pa but still very concerned about Grandmother. Although she visited her almost dally, weather permitting, she felt she could better care for her at our house, and this was grandmother's wish!

The following Sunday afternoon Mike, Marty and I went to Aunt Anna's. Mike was driving the Surrey. The weather was severe. There were snow flurries and the wind was sharp. We carried extra blankets. Mike carried Grandmother from the house and lifted her onto the surrey where Marty and I wrapped her in blankets and huddled about her.

When the surrey pulled up to our house, Ma was there waiting. Shewas like an exuberant mother who had just just retrieved her missing child and fussed about her as she did her babies.

Grandmother was a very willing recipient. She was delighted to be home and receive homage especially from all the younger children who were so happy to see her. “We love you Grandmother. We're so glad to see you Grandmother. Hugs and kisses grandmother.” Love was bouncing from the wails until the echoing of voices seemed unending..

Grandmother, exhausted, was carried up the stairs to her bed but not before stopping by to see Pa, who had retired earlier. She was aware of Pa's lingering pain and misery; and aware of the concern that permeated the household. She held his hand and after words of affection, they shared prayers.. The scene was punctuated by sad happy bears--theirs and ours!