Gramma was an amazing cook—potato donuts, strawberry-rhubarb pie, the most perfect gravy you’ve ever slathered over your potatoes. She was, however, weak in the beverage department. See, Gramma would take a gallon of milk, and “stretch” it, using dried milk powder to make the one into four. There are some among the cousins who cannot tolerate milk to this day because of this particular frugality. Sorry, Gram! Another beverage we’ll remember her for is Tang. Or rather the unique taste/texture she made out of it. Somehow, Gramma’s Tang was always watery, and gritty. Many of us remember sitting around the on the bench by the big kitchen table trying to figure out how to get out of there without drinking the Tang. But she always had a smile on her face when she chided us about not drinking it.
Gramma was crafty, each of us can attest to her skill with a crochet hook and a sewing machine, although her “taste” in fabric wasn’t always what we would select. Case-in-point, each year, Gram would make each of us kids pajamas for Christmas, out of whatever bargain bin fabric she could find. Unfortunately, one year her bargain bin scouring yielded fabric that was better suited for chair upholstery than it was pajamas. Poor Kerwin. Color selection wasn’t her forte either, do you all remember the year of the “clown” pajamas? At least those were flannel! Then she graciously cut up her old pant suits and created quilts for each of us, which we received on our 16th birthdays. Today, that quilt is more cherished than ever, like getting a hug from Gram.
In her later years, at the Senior Center, Gramma got into ceramics. Each of us has at least one item that Gramma poured, carefully sanded, decorated then presented for Christmas or as a wedding gift . Items to cherish, and we will each remember the beautiful woman who had us in mind when she crafted it.
Memories of Gramma’s house abound, as grandkids we probably had the coolest place ever to call Grampa and Gramma’s house. How many people can say they sat in a barber chair at their gramma’s house and got a haircut? Each “Keen” boy here can! Then there was her old wringer-washer out on the back porch. We kids got lessons in natural consequences when our fingers got squeezed between those rollers! Gramma would laugh sympathetically and say “gotta keep your fingers out of the way!” People have memories of their gramma’s attic, but ours was the coolest, hands down. It was HUGE! It was the space above the store, and playing hide & seek in there was the best day ever. Unless, of course, a bat was discovered. This seemed to happen regularly around Christmas. All the Keen cousins have stories about those batty adventures. And we each learned a valuable biology lesson in the process…moth balls do not kill bats, neither does pinning them spread eagle to a board. We could go on and on with memories of the fort on the hill, the huge garden shared with Whip & Pearl, the carving tree, the sand pit, walks to the cemetery down the road, it was all great.
Gramma’s smile was something to behold—it took over her entire face. You wanted to have her smile, and it wasn’t hard to make happen. The corners of her mouth would come up, her eyes would disappear behind those glasses, and she would light up the entire earth. Her smile could make your troubles or pain disappear, and that’s something that we’ll all miss very much.
Gramma’s lasting legacy is one that will not fade or wear out with time. Gramma’s real legacy is her faith. Faith that was passed down to her four sons and her daughter, and then on to each of their children. Gramma wasn’t one to preach, she lived her faith each day, day in and day out, like we say now, 24/7/365. May we each carry that legacy with us, so that those who come behind us find us faithful. Gramma will be missed, but we aren’t here to say goodbye, we’re here to say, “See you later!” Even so, come quickly Lord Jesus.