My Gee Gee would pay us five cents for every potato bug in our pail.
He’d hose mud off of a carrot and off of us at the same time. Shrieking, we’d jump from the spray secretly hoping to get caught by refreshing coldness.
He’d hand us roughly cut rhubarb and send us to Baba knowing she’d sit us at the table where we’d dip scarlet tips into glasses of sugar.
His apple tree yielded so many golden spheres that every pair of pantyhose from Shoppers Drugmart was required to strain the juice.
He always had Rocket Candies in his pocket. He’d tell us, “One for you, two for me” (but only if we’d sing his favorite Ukrainian folk song first).
All memories of my Gee Gee involve food. He liked gardening and he loved eating. The stronger tasting, the better (his favorite: raw sliced garlic on porridge!).
More than eating, he liked to have people around the table talking with their mouths full (or people with their mouths full listening to him talk – he was not exactly a quiet man).
He passed all of this on to us. Food and entertaining are central to my family. Cousins, aunts, uncles, everyone loves food, yes. But more than that, many of us have made (or are trying to make) food a career.
Like my brother, who may not do much gardening (he spends the entire spring and summer at his seasonal restaurant), nor does he eat garlic on his porridge, strain juice through pantyhose or talk with his mouth full (at least not often), but he did get a love of food and of having friends and family around the table from Gee Gee. And, he would definitely share candy with me or with anyone else who asked.
Check out the other posts in my series about my family’s food history: The Pittmans’ Restaurants, Melty Brie with Garlic, Red Pepper and a Year in the Life of Pittman’s on 44, Pepper Jack Soup from the Falcon Lake Deli