I was standing in the kitchen eating a good, homemade southern biscuit with a nice pat of butter in its middle, when my senses whisked me back to another house, another tasty biscuit, another just-melting-but-still-cold piece of butter.
My grandparent’s house, Birmingham, Alabama circa 1991: In front of me, at chest height while sitting, is my Granny’s oval dining room table, shiny with wood polish. Around the table, on rounded and puffed, aqua-upholstered, carved wooden chairs from an era past, sits my family – my Granny with her curly gray hair, my Grandaddy topped in a gloriously soft white tuft, my mom and dad, and my little sister with her freckles.
Eating my biscuit in my own kitchen today, I remembered how things were to be done at that family dinner table. In this formal Southern dining room with it’s sheer lace curtains, the African violets bloom in the window, and Granny’s pastel portraits of my four great grandparents hang in gilded frames upon a wall-papered backdrop. In this room, your mint iced teas must sit on the silver coasters, and the tiny salt and pepper shakers – brought home from France in WWII – are set within reach. The fresh biscuits are always served in the ventilated and covered red warming dish. The perfectly-sized pat of butter is to rest on the edge of your plate to keep the butter dish passing along smoothly to your neighbor. An iceberg salad is always served with my Grandaddy’s homemade salad dressing – just the right amounts of oil, vinegar, paprika, celery salt and bits of onion. Napkins in your lap, silver utensils positioned just so. We all hold hands for the “Moses family blessing,” which is still said today by my father and grandfather. I remember my grandmother’s hands, affected by her scleroderma so that the skin was tight and shiny, gripping my hands more tightly than most. It sort of hurt, but it was “Granny’s grip”, so it was also comforting. We did things just so. Her way.
It’s nice to remember the stories in your life; a lovely treat when they surprise you, even if you’re just eating biscuits.