Grandma’s Homemade Bread — Life then and now

She wasn’t a saint, but close in many ways. Her giggle was contagious…a real bell laugh. Her belly was round, but not overly so. Her smile came easily, unless you were trying to get away with something. She never wore a bun on her head. She didn’t talk much, unless you asked the right question. She never complained, if she would have, we might have known she only had a few days left. She was wise, calming and fun to be around. She was Grandma.

Mom says that when she was little, they lived on a farm outside of Hopkins, Missouri. Now I know you’ve never heard of this town, but it is in the Northwest part of Missouri with a population of about 220. Mom says she remembers her Daddy (Grandpa) hunting squirrel and rabbit so they’d have food to eat. Back in those days of the depression, food was scarce. I imagine the rabbit and squirrel population probably got scarce, too. I don’t know about any of that, but what I do know is that Grandma could bake bread like nobody else. I suppose it comes from all those years having to make your own bread.

Grandma baked us all bread as Christmas gifts every year. When I was little, there were only us and my Aunt’s family. So, she’d send about 4 loaves home with us. As we all grew up and got married, she would bake us all 2 loaves to take home. This was a treat. We fought over that bread to make sure we all got our 2 loaves, and if Grandma ever miscounted…watch out! It was war. With Mom having 4 children and Aunt Lois having 5, once we were all married, it amounted to 18 loaves plus Mom and Aunt Lois…that’s 20 loaves of bread she baked every year for Christmas.

Now, the next thing happened, our kids all started growing up and getting married (except me, I’m the youngest and my boy is 10). I believe the last year Grandma made bread, she made somewhere in the neighborhood of 36 loaves. Folks, that’s a LOT of loaves of bread to make. I made one loaf last night, and my hands got so tired from kneading that they hurt. How did she do it? Yes, she was tough, and yes she was used to it, but she loved us for sure, or she never would have undertaken that.

Grandma stopped making us all bread at the age of 94 when she had some sort of stomach cancer, lost a bunch of weight and couldn’t do it anymore. She moved in with Mom, and still cooked fried potatoes for her husband (my grandpa passed away when my mom was in high school, along with Grandma’s son…a loss to be sure). She was still fairly spry and did as much as she could, but in February she passed peacefully at the age of 98. We mourn her passing, but she had told me a while back that she wanted to see her husband, the love of her life, and that she missed him every day. He’s been gone for more than 50 years I suppose now. I guess we never get over that old love. My bread is in the oven baking, and I can only hope it is half as good as Grandma’s.

Forever in peace, forever with her loved ones in heaven, putting in a good word for all of us….Grandma we love you.

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