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Are You Hungry?

A tribute to my Grandmother, my inspiration

By Amber Van WortPublished 4 months ago 4 min read
Are You Hungry?
Photo by Bruna Frias on Unsplash

“Are you hungry?” were often the first words one heard when they came into my Grandmas house. At any given time there would be multiple pies or loaves of bread cooling on the counter, and even the shortest of visits was always accompanied with food. She had a sweetness about her that you simply couldn’t say no to.

You may have walked in with no intention of eating, but you walked out with a full stomach. I remember one night when I was around thirteen, a friend and I were sleeping over at Grandma’s house in Tweed. We had been out for dinner that night and didn’t head back to Grandmas until around 8 p.m. As we were walking up to the house we noticed the kitchen lights were still beaming through the four-panel window-pane that faced the street. Strange, we thought, Grandma was usually in bed by now. When we walked inside the overwhelming smell of garlic wafted over us. Hot dogs sizzled in a frying pan making the occasional pop sound. Grandma stood at the stove stirring mushroom soup. The small metal spoon making a loud clattering noise as it bumped the edges of the soup pot.

“Are you hungry,” she asked. “I’ve got garlic bread in the oven.” My friend and I burst into laughter. We were still a little full from dinner, but we knew where we were.

“Sure Grandma, we could eat.” Turning down a meal never worked out well for anyone in that house.

That was just Grandma though. Somehow she always had a full course meal on hand, ready to feed anyone who stopped by. Some of my fondest and most vivid memories with Grandma took place around a bowl of hot mushroom soup.

When I was 16 I had job washing dishes at a local Greek restaurant downtown. The hours were terrible and my feet always hurt. Every day when I came home I’d head straight to my bedroom and flop face first onto my bed, exhausted.

One day on my power walk from the car to my glorious bed, my parents stopped me in the kitchen. “We need to talk to you,” they said. “Grandma’s sick.”

I don’t remember feeling much in that moment. When someone lays that kind of news on you it never feels real at first.

Actually, it didn’t feel real for a long time because even cancer couldn’t stop Grandma from feeding people. When she first got sick she spent a lot of time in and out of the hospital. I remember visiting her; most of our conversations centred around the bad hospital food, and even then she’d offer up her rice pudding to anyone who walked into the room.

Grandma was a giver, in every sense of the word. She found great comfort in bringing comfort to others, even when she was sick. Lucky for the rest of us, the comfort she provided usually took the form of homemade mac and cheese or raspberry filled tarts.

The things she liked to cook, her generosity with food; these are details about my Grandma I’ll never forget. However, the last few months before her death are a complete blur too me.

She lost her appetite and all her energy, and it all seemed so sudden. Her delicious sense of humour had turned sour. Next thing I knew, visiting Grandma meant munching quickly on a fast-food dinner on our way to Campbellford Memorial Hospital.

At one point the doctors decided she was well enough to come home. My mother, father and I all pitched in to take care of her. Eating a meal in Grandma’s house that she didn’t make herself was the strangest feeling. For me, and I’m sure for her too.

One day in late July my Dad and I went to check in on Grandma. We walked into her house, except it didn’t look like her house anymore. There were no pies on the counter, no warm smells coming from the oven. All the lights were off and there was a quiet about the place that I’d never experienced before. It was as if the life had been drained from her home.

When she didn’t say hello, we were concerned. The details, like I said, are blurry. I’m not sure if she simply wasn’t feeling well, or if something more severe had happened, but I do know we called an ambulance.

From here, I remember the details with complete clarity. Grandma sat in the centre of her bed. She was hunched over, the colour faded from her cheeks. She wore a knit pink sweater over her frail shoulders. She would need assistance walking to the ambulance, in fact, she was struggling to sit up in bed. I stood in her doorway, not saying anything when she looked up at me, her smile as warm as ever, and asked, “are you hungry?”

Moments later the ambulance showed up. My parents and I stood outside; Dad was quiet and Mom was crying. But as I watched the paramedics drive Grandma to the Campbellford Memorial Hospital for the last time, I didn’t shed any tears. All I could concentrate on was the rumble in my stomach. I was hungry.

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About the Creator

Amber Van Wort

Novice poet--currently wide open to accepting feedback of any kind in the comments!

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    Amber Van WortWritten by Amber Van Wort

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