Things my Opa said

This post inspired by V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #40:
Things my father (or any male of influence growing up) said.

 

 

opa 59
Opa visiting his grandchildren
circa 1959

 

Are we here to eat or play cards?
You haven’t got a ghost of a chance.
Throw one away you won’t have so many.
Don’t bend the tickets!
Punt!

Discharge!! 

 

Card games: May I…Pinochle…Hearts…
Always accompanied by my grandfather’s litany of patter. To keep squirmy card players at attention. Snack crumbs to a minimum. Playing cards unbent. Always with a smile; however small, tugging at the corner of his mouth. The corner not clamped tight on a lit Pall Mall. The smile winning out at the last directive – discharge in lieu of discard – to get a rise out of my mother who was predictably horrified every time. Snickering ensued amongst the rest of us. Every time.

My grandfather – Opa – was a talker. A rabid card player. And so was I.

He did not offer endless pieces of advice…but a few come to mind:


The Ticket

I was 21 and had just started seriously dating the man I eventually married 3 years later. I was home that March on my college spring break…and spent a weekend visiting Opa and Oma. As we shared a booth waiting for pizzas at a local restaurant, he sat directly across from me. Oma was on my right. The conversation shifted from his questions about my nutrition classes…to questions about my romantic boyfriend. Who had sent a dozen yellow roses. To me. At their house…FTD!

What does he do? He’s a musician…
Uh, huh…?  He’s going to be a music teacher when he graduates this year.

Okay that’s good. Opa’s expression at this point relaxed somewhat, but remained neutral. I suspected he was hoping I was in love with someone who would earn lots of money. Obviously that wasn’t going to happen. Never mind what my career would bring…but I was a year away from graduation at that point.

And then he got to it…
Shifting in his seat, he leaned forward. Looked straight at me, his glasses sliding down his nose.

His blue eyes bored into mine.

Honey.
Remember This.
Wait For The Ticket.

Immediately Oma kicked him under the table. Muttered his name in a warning.

Waiting for my reply, he repeated:

Wait For The Ticket.

Never breaking his gaze. Uncharacteristically serious.
I nodded. Not really embarrassed, I kept my reaction as noncommittal as possible.
He didn’t want me to repeat his history.


Breastfeeding Is Best

Opa was beyond excited at the prospect of becoming a great grandfather. When I was expecting my first child, he would check in with me every so often to ask about my health. And plans for the baby. Including what the baby’s diet would be. I told him I was planning to exclusively breastfeed. He was thrilled. Your Oma breastfed your mother for a year!

He was one of the first people I called when my daughter was born. His first words…after congratulating me…were:

If You Breastfeed Her For The First Year Everything Will Be Fine!

And she was.

opa & K 1983008
Opa & his great granddaughter
1983

 

 

Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving

A day – if you’re fortunate – set aside for family.
For gratitude. For sharing a meal.

Usually a massive meal – in our house it was based around turkey, gravy, stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, some kind of vegetable. Rolls or banana bread. Every year the “fixins” changed somewhat.

The most important part: many pies. The dinner was basically a stop on the way to pumpkin…apple…cherry pies.

And my personal favorite…playing cards while eating dessert: aka pie.

Dinner was also all about the conversation and stories we shared. So much time and opportunity for prolonged discussion when you are passing endless bowls of food around. Pouring wine. Pouring water. Carving more turkey. I just never knew what subjects would come up; but many became classics.

Such as…

In 1990, my husband and I hosted our first Thanksgiving.
I had never cooked a whole turkey before. An overwhelming task. I had heard horror stories about overcooked turkeys and dried out white meat. That would never happen to me…I’ll cover it! That should do it.

My parents and my in-laws were coming – to join me, my husband and our 2 kids.

I dusted off the big blue covered roaster pan my mother had passed down to me. Coated the fresh turkey with spices and some oil. Tied the legs together.

I put the cover on. It went into the oven. I set the timer. And let it cook. And cook. Many hours later – when, according to the recipe it would be done, I removed it from the oven. Look it’s ready! With great fanfare, I lifted the lid…Oh No!

It looked like a turkey snow angel! All the turkey meat had slid off the bones. We had turkey stew! There was nothing to carve. Legs askew. Wings fallen off. My mother was horrified. I laughed. And laughed.

It still tasted great…and…the white meat was NOT dry!

♥  ♣  ♠  ♦

The following year:

Twelve family members gathered at the dining room table to enjoy our Thanksgiving feast – including my parents, my husband’s parents, my grandmother, my sister and her family.


Upon noticing someone struggling to remove the meat from a turkey leg, my father-in-law shared a memory…a story that has become part of family lore.

He began describing his job at the First National grocery store in the 1930’s. When he helped get the turkeys ready to be sold for Thanksgiving. The turkey carcasses were brought to the store and his job was to pull the tendons out of the legs. Apparently, this made the turkey legs easier to eat. He went into graphic detail. Right in front of everyone. Who put their forks down and stared at him…as he explained this was probably not done anymore. Those pesky tendons still attached.

GROSS! we protested.

Shocked faces…especially those with turkey legs eaten or half eaten on their plates. There may have been some gagging. My big city brother-in-law’s face turned white. He got up and left the room…

♥  ♣  ♠  ♦

Empty nest Thanksgivings…

 left more time for documenting…

IMG_1302

But traditions remained the same.


Happy Thanksgiving!