My Plate Is Full

Sara Etgen-Baker

© Copyright 2023 by Sara Etgen-Baker

Photo of Grammy.

Photo of Grammy.
Photo from the author.
 Photos courtesy of the author..

I recently discovered some of my grandmother’s personal belongings including two of her delicate China dessert plates. I stroked them with my fingers, suddenly filled with a rush of childhood memories of the many weekends I spent at Grammy’s house in Dallas, Texas. On Saturday mornings, she always woke me extremely early, 5:30 a.m., to be exact.

"Time's a wastin'," she said, yanking the covers off me.
I grumbled, of course, because, unlike Grammy, I wasn’t accustomed to getting up so early on Saturday mornings.

Stop your bellyaching!” she replied with soft elegance in her voice. “Get dressed then we’ll eat breakfast."
I dressed and stumbled blurry-eyed into her kitchen inhaling the sweet aroma of percolating coffee wafting through the air. I pulled out a chair and sat down at her tiny table nestled in a corner of her kitchen, the early morning sunlight streaming through the venetian blinds. On the table, there was always a vase of flowers, two cups and two plates, a green-leafed one for her and a pink-flowered one for me. Each plate held a homemade, warm bran muffin, her favorite.
We sat quietly together and ate our muffins while she sipped on her cup of coffee, heavy on the cream, letting it lightly touch her lips. She read her Saturday morning newspaper looking for bargains while I drank my hot cocoa and read the comics.
Be a lady. Keep your elbows off the table and sit up straight.” She interjected. Eat slowly and nibble on your muffin. And, for heaven’s sake, don’t slurp your hot cocoa or lick your fingers!”

Soon her older sister, my great Aunt Maudie, arrived filling Grammy’s house with energy and laughter. They grabbed their purses, and three of us walked hand-in-hand down Belmont street waiting at the corner for the city bus that took us to downtown Dallas. Grammy and Aunt Maudie shopped all morning at Titche's, a now extinct upscale department store, trying on clothes and shoes and oohing and ahhing over the jewelry counter, rarely buying anything. We lunched at the Woolworth's lunch counter and then made our way downstairs to the bargain basement where they spent the entire afternoon scouring through the clearance bins always finding something to take home.
With their purchases in hand, we climbed back up the stairs. Before boarding the bus, we stopped again at the Woolworth’s lunch counter where they’d splurge, spending 25 cents on deluxe tulip sundaes—one for each of us.
A lifetime has passed since my childhood days spent with Grammy and Great Aunt Maudie. In fact, I’m now my grandmother’s age. For some inexplicable reason, I always wake up around 5:30 a.m., unable to sleep any longer.

“Time’s a wastin’,” I can hear Grammy’s voice echoing in my mind. I dress; before venturing outside for my morning walk, I take the time to warm a bran muffin (now my favorite) and place it on Grammy’s pink flowered plate and slowly nibble on it relishing the early morning sunlight filtering through my dining room window.
Sometimes I can feel Grammy's presence in the room with me and swear I hear her genteel voice saying, "Sit up straight. Slowdown! You eat too fast. Make your muffin last."
Okay, Grammy,” I say under my breath. “I’ll be a lady,” resisting the urge to lick my fingers.
My pink-flowered plate is full, filled to capacity with heartfelt memories of Grammy, Great Aunt Maudie, and the love we shared.

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