Along the Artichoke Trail

Until a few years ago, I never thought about artichokes. I didn’t eat them nor does anyone in my household. But that was before Jacki and I became grandparents.

Neither, my sister nor I had married. We had no children and expected no grandchildren. A knitting lesson changed everything. Jacki was teaching a group of middle school aged girls to knit and one girl Ariella, was having a very tough time getting the directions straight.

My sister invited Ariella over to our house for some one-on-one lessons. Well her mother came along too. After, a very intense lesson, Ariella’s mother said come to our house for a Sabbath dinner. My sister mentioned me and soon we were going frequently to the Bears’ home for Friday night dinner.

Let’s call the family, the Bear family. Both parents are doctors and with a growing medical practice and five children, a fabulous miniature Schnauzer and eventually the arrival of a grandfather who came to live with the Bears, the household was very busy. The need to go to the grocery store, to Office Max, and Barnes and Noble increased. Added to that were pick-ups from school, including Sundays at 12:30, and after religion classes and we soon had five grandchildren. Say grandchildren if not de jure, then certainly de facto.

When the youngest finally started to talk, he called us Ackie and Eggie. I became Eggie and we had some compressed education on being grandmothers. Note, they never called us grandma because the biological grandmother objected. She said, “We could be called Aunt Jacki or Aunt Evvy but she was the grandmother!”

Let me explain the artichoke trail especially since they were not eaten in my house. The Bears adored artichokes which are not that commonly available in grocery stores. I learned to hunt for them at either the grocery store or at Jarjura’s market and sometimes I was successful in my search.

Actually I am pretty good at noticing them but rather clueless on how to pick the best artichokes from the bin. Still there is great joy at the Bears’ home when I am able to buy artichokes at a reasonable price. Finding them on a dinner menu is a cause for great joy.

Yes, it seems like lots of work but we do get to play at times including trips to Disney World and Harry Potter Land. Closer to home we had a fabulous day at Great Adventure in New Jersey. I doubt if we would ever go to Great Adventure or Harry Potter Land on our own.

Going to Disney World with grandchildren, 19 pieces of luggage including two rolling carts filled with kosher food, not readily available, in the area around Disney World, is eye-opening – heck, it could be made for the movies, as a short film.

Our first trip, five children, four adults, one stroller and those food carts was an experience to remember or maybe to cause one to drink to forget.

One good thing is the Orlando Airport seems to be prepared for any size crowd and the help seemed unflappable. We arrived at the airport; gathered up our luggage and the kids and walked across the street to the rental car area. The man who assisted us wasn’t alarmed by all the luggage and the car seats the excited kids and the nervous adults. Then there was the debate by the grandchildren about who went with Ackie and Eggie in their car. Of course Daddy Bear tipped him well.

Jacki and I had never rented a house with a pool on the outskirts of Disney World and dividing the bedrooms and the kids was an experience. Running the washer and dryer about 20 hours a day and folding clothes forever was not too exciting. But the really rewarding part was watching the younger boys and their excitement over meeting Mickey Mouse or trying a ride that meant overcoming a certain amount of fear. Or watching the four boys play with the sprinklers which wer close to the ground and came on and off in no particular pattern Never id four boys enjoy getting soaking wet so much.

We had been at the amusement park several times but never with grandchildren and never witnessed SOAR through their eyes.

We are anticipating the second boy, Joseph’s bar mitzvah in a few weeks. The first one was thrilling. David did an excellent job with his hof torah or reciting the part of the torah that is read on his birthday. I think we glowed.

Arielle graduated from elementary school and will graduate from a high school in New York next June. Yes, she commuted daily for four years and we picked her up many, many times at the Bridgeport railroad station or sometimes at the Waterbury railroad station.

David comes home occasionally from high school in Baltimore which means I am really familiar with the route to and from Bradley Airport.

Graduations and bar mitzvahs, science fairs and promotion ceremonies highlight our relatively new status as grandmothers and is a good contrast to the more mundane trips to the library or TJ Maxx to which I drive Arielle frequently I stepped inside the Game Stop for the first time to make one grandson happy and Petsmart to make another grandchild happy.

Another wonderful feeling is when we meet friends who have known us for years but were unaware of our grandchildren. It is really rewarding to see their eyes when we say grandchildren or better still show off their pictures.

Evelyn Marshak
Waterbury, CT 2012
OLLI Fall 2012

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