This past weekend our family gathered at the banks of a very special river to celebrate the life of our departed matriarch.
Three generations stood in the golden sunlight and shared their happy memories through tears and laughter while the young children tossed rocks and spruce cones into the water and chased each other down the path. When all the anecdotes were told and the poems read, we ended the service by singing one of her favorite songs, “You Are My Sunshine,” accompanied by her grandson on her accordion, with new lyrics lovingly written by her granddaughter:
You held our hands, Joan, you held our hearts and
You made us who we are today
Your loving memory will be the sunshine
Shining on our path each day
Over rest of the weekend there were games and races and boat rides to enjoy, and for just those couple days, with so many of our loved ones gathered, the world felt almost normal again. But I know in some ways those days are truly over.
We must move on and make do in our new reality, a reality we were painfully reminded of by the absence of a whole family of four quarantined with COVID, and the absence of Grandma’s bright voice.
I know she would have enjoyed herself immensely, and most likely would have won a game or two of pitch.
One of her favorite desserts was a blueberry buckle, so I made one in her memory.
For the buckle
1 ½ cups sugar
½ cup butter, softened
2 large eggs
4 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
3 cups blueberries — frozen or fresh
For the topping
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2/3 cup cold butter, cut into cubes
Grease a 9×13 baking dish and preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.
Cream the butter and sugar using a stand or hand mixer until the mixture is fluffy and lightened in color.
Add the eggs and continue mixing until smooth.
In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
Add the flour mix to the butter and eggs in three stages, alternating with the milk, until just combined.
Fold in blueberries and set aside.
To make the topping: whisk together the flour, sugar, and cinnamon.
Cut in the cold butter using your fingertips or a pastry blender until the mixture is crumbly.
Spread the buckle dough out to cover the bottom of the baking dish, then sprinkle the topping in an even layer over the dough.
Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Joan was a lovely woman, and even though I didn’t know her for very long, she made a huge impact on my life.
She raised the family I love and instilled in them her wisdom, tenacity, kindness, and her patient generosity.
She was a gentle but persistent advisor to me and pushed me to do the hard things I would rather run from. When the day came for me to tell her with pride that I had accomplished one such dreaded task, she looked at me with misty eyes and told me how proud she was that I had finally taken her advice and charged forward despite my fear, just as she would.
At the riverside, another of her granddaughters declared through her tears that you just knew Grandma loved you, and you didn’t question it, and I wholeheartedly agree.