My grandma mothered in the era when every night was a full meal: meat and potatoes, salad and dessert. She prepared a feast for her husband and three hungry sons - every night. And nothing from a box or a can.
I think, at least in part, she measured her daily worth by the presentation at the end of the day and whether or not the men in her life were satisfied and complimentary. Or at least satisfied.
Let's just take a moment for the women of her generation.
And I'll take a moment for you too, lady chefs and gentlemen cooks who still go to such great lengths on a daily basis. I'll take a moment while I'm putting mac 'n cheese in the microwave.
And I hope your family appreciates your meal tonight, because that's why I haven't cooked very much in the last three years: there isn't a blessed person in this house who wants anything made from scratch. So I've stopped bemoaning and started counting my blessings. Poptarts, anyone?
I've heard stories about my grandma's desserts, how the family couldn't really win in the dessert department. If they didn't eat it, then she was disappointed to have fixed something they didn't like. But if they gobbled it down and there were no leftovers, then she was offended that all of her day's work was devoured so quickly. Washing the empty pie tins, she was known to grudgingly say, "Well, we'll see if I ever make that again."
I've thought of her many times in the last many days, as people have so graciously told me they devoured my book in one sitting. Or they stayed up all night to finish it. Or they are reading it again because it ended too quickly. Or they picked it up and couldn't put it down.
Oh, to submit my writing among those authors for whom we slow down as we see the ending pages draw few. Is there a greater compliment in the literature world?
A friend of mine asked me, "Does that bother you, that we finish it so fast? I almost feel bad telling you how quickly I breezed through it, because I know you've been working on it for two years!"
It's true. I have.
I've thought often of the movie makers who spend years creating our favorite movies, and we finish it in less than three hours - and that might not even be because we loved it, but because it's just how long the lights were out in the theater.
One reader told me that she started reading while she sat on the toilet. Two hours later, her family had gone to bed and she had a red ring around her bottom from sitting there so long. (Oh, the things you're willing to tell me.)
Another loaded the dishwasher with one hand and held my book open with the other.
Yet another said she couldn't stop long enough to refill her own coffee cup. (Now this is some serious dedication, people.)
To have you read my book so quickly, to turn page after page and not watch the clock, oh my. I'm at a loss, really, to tell you what that does for my writing heart.
It makes me want to visit my grandma in her retro kitchen of yellows and browns, where she is wearing heels and a skirt and lipstick, while she stands at the sink rinsing those pie tins. I want to come up behind her, put my cheek next to hers, hug her neck.
I want to say, "Hey, Grams? When it's all over too soon, it's a good thing. It means your work was delicious."