I spoke at my grandmother Julie’s funeral today. This is what I said.
There is a restaurant – not far from my house – that claims to have the best cabbage rolls on Earth.
They were wrong.
They had no way of knowing that Grandma Julie’s cabbage rolls had them beat. No contest.
She seemed to serve us cabbage rolls – and chicken and rice – every time I visited as I was growing up. And though I resisted at first, they won me over.
Not the chicken livers, though. That was all my dad.
But the cabbage rolls and chicken and rice… Those were amazing. Nobody else’s are as good.
That and her palacsintas. Even the Hungarian cultural society in Dayton doesn’t make them right. Not the way she made them.
It wasn’t just the healthy foods, either.
There was the drawer full of snack cakes and treats, always fully stocked, that she kept in the kitchen. She gave me those treats far more frequently than ever I got them at home – especially when my parents weren’t there to say “no”.
And there were the toys. As an adult, I realize they were nothing big, nothing fancy. Usually they were a generic knock off from Phar-Mor.
Regardless, I enjoyed them.
Every visit, she gave me food. She gave me things she thought I’d enjoy.
It would be easy to think of it as buying affection…but that would be wrong.
It wasn’t until much, much later that I really got it. That I really understood and appreciated what she had done.
It was when I found myself always trying to feed the people I care about.
It was when I found myself always buying -as best as I could afford – things for the people I care about.
Finally, I really understood that food, those toys and treats, were her ways of saying “I love you”.
Finally, I understood what her example had really taught me.
An example that I’ve ended up carrying forward to this day.
I don’t express love quite the same way that she did. And each of us may express our affection in different ways, using different languages of love.
But thanks to her example, I can see those other expressions of love more clearly. I have learned to be able to hear when other people show thier love differently than I do.
You may not show love the same way she did. But no matter how each of us communicates and shows our love for each other, I think all of us will carry forward the memory and example of her love for us.
But I don’t think any of us will be able to make cabbage rolls quite as good as hers.
I love you, Grandma.