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The Last Windrow: Grandmothers Give Brownies

I know it is past Mother’s Day. The Minnesota fishing opener, which was a dud because of ice still on the lakes this year, usually interrupts Mother’s Day and sometimes I feel we do not provide our mothers and grandmothers adequate admiration for them having put up with us for the years they have known us. 

Way back in the late 1980s I wrote a column dedicated to both my grandmothers, but most focused on one of my grandmothers who I had known since I realized I was alive, Grandma Bessie. Grandma Bessie had come to the USA as a teenage immigrant from what is now the Czech Republic. She moved here, got married to Adolf Buryanek and raised a batch of kids in a hollow, deep between the Loess Hills of northwestern Iowa. I always remember a map of the United States pinned to her kitchen wall and how proud she was to be an American citizen and how proud she was of her husband and boys who all served in the U.S. Army.

I had the preacher read this column at Grandma Bessie’s funeral many years ago. I thought I’d share it with you all as a part of my “classic” Last Windrow year. 

“Grandmothers Give Brownies Before Dinner”

What is a grandmother. I mean, what more than the mother of your mother or your father? This is what the word “grandmother” means to me:

A grandmother is a buffer zone between your parents and reality.

A grandmother trusts you to do the right thing, without watching over your shoulder.

Grandmothers make plain peanut butter and jelly sandwiches special.

A grandmother will read you a story, even if it’s not bedtime.

Grandmothers have the softest hugs in the world.

A grandmother wants you to come back to her house, even after you’ve broken one of her good dishes.

Grandmothers will give you a brownie before dinner.

To a grandmother, your past is not necessarily a barometer for your future. They know things will get better.

I did not know my one grandmother very well, as she was ill most of the time I was growing up. But Grandma Bessie, I knew. Grandmas Bessie was a special lady.

I raced through her house many times. I have swung by the hour on that stuffed, sack swing hanging down from the huge elm tree in her front yard. With her nine children’s children visiting on Sundays, it was a packed house! Grandma Bessie didn’t seem to mind the activity. She went about her household chores with a degree of calmness that defied explanation.

Grandmas Bessie had traveled many miles since coming to this country at the age of 17.

Nine kids and almost uncountable grandkids and great-grandkids have known her. I am the oldest of her grandchildren. I want her to know that we all love her. She was a touchstone to all of the family. 

Grandmothers, like mine, have made this world a better place.

See you next time. Okay?