Traverse City Record-Eagle

Life

January 25, 2009

Grandma's Kitchen: A daughter's admiration

Editor's note: Edna Shaffer's daughter, Sarah Earl, wrote this month's column.

When mom first asked that I consider guest writing her column, the first topic that came to mind was "moms."

Actually, my mom.

I was happy for the chance to expound on how she perfectly embodies a nurturing spirit, a quiet intellect and quick wit. She has more compassion than anyone else I have ever met.

My son, Nolan, attempted to commandeer the submission in order to talk about Grams, the most instrumental person in his life. He marvels at the things she has seen in her lifetime -- like how she grew up in the South becoming her own person, despite socio-economics and being born a girl. He admires that she never worried about the status quo. And he laments that she is unbeatable at Boggle. Ultimately he attributes his desire to be a writer to her influence.

We both quickly realized how embarrassed she would be if this turned into a tribute. She is not showy. She is humble and real. And despite what she might outwardly admit, her spirit moves through the daily actions of her future generations. Although it was only through the gift of time that this became obvious to me.

I grew up in a small town as the daughter of a very important community leader. This definitely had its benefits, but in return came with a lot of responsibility. Because my father was a minister, I was expected to fall into one of two categories -- both extremes. I was either going to be very angelic, or nothing but trouble. Although I chose the middle of the road, this was still enough to exasperate my dad on a daily basis.

My mother never contributed to the arguments. She never sided with me or my dad. She just smiled and never appeared to judge me for having purple bangs. She didn't yell at me to get off the phone during one of my marathon conversations. She didn't ground me for barely squeaking by in geometry. And she let me leave the house when I thought I was Madonna, adorned in lace and too much hairspray. Dad would rant and pace, and she would kindly make me fried potatoes. She quietly knew my day of reckoning was coming. And it did. In the form of an 8-lb., sweet, little present named Nolan.

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