As I threw together a quick batch of chex mix this afternoon, I realized it had been years since I had made it. And the smell, as smells so often do, brought back a wash of memories, transporting me back in time.
I could smell the spices and feel the warmth I we climbed the narrow garage stairs into my grandmother’s kitchen. My 4 excited siblings crowded up to the door with me, following our ears to the sound of laughter inside. As we poured through the door and into the white tile kitchen, we immediately encounter the spread. Across the countertop, just below my eye level, lay a feast only worthy of the Marlowe name. Corn pudding, broccoli and cheese casserole, turkey, ham, stuffing, sweet potatoes and the most amazing parmesan rolls.
All made with immense love by my grandmother. Mimi. The Jan. A woman unlike any other…she was the kind of person who could touch your life forever, even if you just met her once. She loved people, travel, good food, and most of all her family.
Her laughter, almost like a high pitched cackle filled the room and I couldn’t help but smile. I glanced to the left, brushing by the small, two-person green laminate kitchenette table where Mimi and I sat on so many occasions playing cards. She loved to play cards. She’d cheat with the best of them, then laugh until you almost forgot.
Just past the kitchen was the small wood paneled living room that was original to the house, and a large doorway that led into the expanded living room. The room was lined with windows that overlooked the steeply sloped backyard with a tall weeping willow at the bottom. Through the middle of the room curved an extra large green and coral couch. Every Christmas, in the far left corner of the room towered the most glorious sight (to my eight year old eyes); a glowing Christmas tree surrounded by mountains of brightly wrapped gifts, taller even than myself.
There are traces of Mimi throughout my life that remind me of her daily. I wear hear wedding rings which means the world to me. She and my grandfather had the sweetest marriage. In most photographs of them throughout their years together, he is staring at her in complete joy and adoration, and she is blissfully happy holding his hand.
I also inherited some of her loud costume jewelry and quirky furniture. In our living room sit two large wooden elephant side tables that were also Mimi’s. They are items I never would have purchased (for style or price) but they add such a fun element to the room (not to mention all the elephant in the room jokes).
I often wish I could sit down with her as an adult and just talk about life. Or play cards and go shopping (she loved to shop). She passed away when I was 10 but she left a legacy of joy that I am so thankful to carry on.
Here’s an old family picture…Mimi was incredibly glamorous, even with 4 kids to manage!