I combined some unusable leftovers into sandwich fixings. I had some cream cheese and some olives, very good on toast. My grandmother taught me that; I think I've written about it before, and I may write about it again.
One day, I was discussing some weird thing I eat with my grandmother. She got a big kick out of me because I'm so weird. She'd roll her eyes and tsk and laugh, as only she could. My grandmother was a fantastically frank woman. I think she said every single thing she thought without concern for how it would be received. She wasn't mean or nasty, just direct and opinionated. Anyway, this day, she didn't laugh. She got a mischievous look in her eyes, and she said she knew something I might like.
I followed her into the kitchen, and she made me a cream cheese and olive sandwich. She put it on toast because she said it was better that way. She had eaten one earlier untoasted, but I should have it toasted. I felt kind of special -- my sandwich had that extra effort of toasting. It was quite good, but I figured it would be. What's not to like?
After that, my grandmother and I ate cream cheese and olive sandwiches together from time to time. Once she made me a sandwich to go, so I'd have it for lunch at work the next day. (I love when someone else makes my lunch.) My grandmother figured I was the only one in the family who'd actually like the stuff. She and her mother had been the only ones in her family to eat cream cheese and olive sandwiches when she was growing up. She told me how she'd come home from high school, and my great grandmother would make sandwiches for them both and they would talk. It was their special time together, and now it was ours.
For all our differences, I loved my grandmother very much. We got along surprisingly well. Some nights I'd sit and talk to her 'til one o'clock in the morning. We'd talk about World War II, music, and politics. Sometimes we even talked about my ex-girlfriend, which was kind of a big deal. My grandmother wasn't the most tolerant or open-minded person. It can't have been easy for her to have a gay granddaughter, but the most she ever said to me about it was that I'd turned out differently than she expected. It never got in the way. I bet my grandmother never expected to spend her twilight years talking to a pierced, tattooed lesbian about Japanese and Middle Eastern food.
There's a lot that reminds me of my grandmother. She loved red cardinals, and I'll never, ever see one without thinking of her. They'll always make me smile. I think people who pass away are never really gone as long as we remember them. I'll remember my grandmother when I'm eating cream cheese and olive sandwiches. And I'll remember her mother. And I'll be part of their strange club.
I have two very bad reasons why I may want children someday. Not bad really, just insufficient. I don't actually like children very much or know how to deal with them. I'd probably make a really lousy parent, and it's hard for lesbians to have kids, and I'm usually single. That having been said, I really, really want my mother to be a grandmother. She deserves that, and she would be so good at it! That's the primary reason I think I might want kids. It's an admittedly backward reason, but if you've met my mother, you can understand it. The second reason is cream cheese and olives. I want a kid I can introduce to this strange, esoteric delicacy. I want to initiate someone else into this secret society.
I know it's silly, but some little part of my grandmother and my great grandmother stays alive in me because I like their weird sandwich. It makes me smile, and it makes me cry. It makes me miss my grandmother. It's just a sandwich, a silly sandwich. But I hope someday I can make one for my grandchild and tell him or her about my grandmother.