“You need to let me go to the door and ring the bell, because I don’t believe you that they aren’t home.”
That was me back when I was a little girl around the same age as Lily was and not believing my mom when she told me that my grandparents went away for the weekend.
Back then, my grandparents (my mom’s parents) were a constant presence in my life and if my mom wasn’t there, then it was my grandmother and grandfather who took care of me.
So stands to reason that I couldn’t believe nor did I want to believe that they weren’t there to spend time with on that particular weekend.
I did indeed make my way up the steps and rang the doorbell. I found rather quickly that they were definitely not home and had gone away for a long weekend, when no one answered the door.
Eventually, they returned home and I truly don’t recall many other times that they weren’t there when I needed them over the years.
And I truly never envisioned or wanted to think of a time where they wouldn’t be there as I got older.
But unfortunately, kids including myself grow up and eventually even my immortal grandparents in my little girl mind aged to the point that first we lost my grandfather to a broken hip (he never recovered from this and passed away 2 weeks after on Valentine’s Day 1999).
My beloved grandmother outlived him by 11 years. I watched my once strong and resilient grandmother become frail, aging for those 11 years until, she too left us on February 3, 2010, eleven days shy of the 11 anniversary of my grandfather’s passing.
I never in a million years back as a kid would have thought that I would ever live a day without being with them physically and yet now I know different.
The pain I felt for both these loses was indescribable and yet when I first began to read Ava Chin’s, Eating Wildly – Foraging for Life, Love and the Perfect Meal, I somehow was brought back as she beautifully and poetically recalled her childhood, which ironically I felt paralleled my own.
See, Ava grew up in Queens, NY as did I. She had a very strong and powerful bond with her maternal grandparents, as did I. Her earliest memories of spending much of her free time with them learning firsthand what love was, made me recall how my grandparents also taught me this lesson from as far back as I could remember.
I always said I wanted to have a love like theirs. They met during the Great Depression as did Ava’s grandparents and not only did they have a great love for each other, but my mother (their only child) was their world, as was my brother and myself (their only grandchildren). This again was all similar to how Ava described her own grandparents and their relationships with their kids and grandkids, too.
My grandfather was even quoted, when describing me as “Shades of Valeria!”, which was his mother, who was known to be a strong and loud woman. Yes, I was definitely this and so much more as a teen.
I loved knowing that they loved me so and always made me so proud to know that I came from these amazingly, loving people, as I felt Ava also depicted from how she shared similar emotions about her own feelings of her grandparents, as well.
So, as I was reading Ava’s book and she was sharing her amazing connection to her two wonderful grandparents,I just couldn’t help, but relate and smile recalling The above memory and so many more moments I was lucky enough to share with both my grandmother and grandfather, too over the years.
And like Ava, it took me quite sometime to heal and find my way after losing the two people that I considered my heroes in more ways then one.
Ava took to foraging and actually living off the foliage and flora in NYC. I seriously was impressed and amazed by her discoveries and how she turned a simple tart into an award winning dish by the end of this book by learning the ins and out of foraging along with meeting the great love of her life that Ava admits her grandmother especially would have approved of.
I can tell you that I was thankful that my own grandmother not only got to meet, but love my husband, Kevin and first born, Emma, too. I would also like to believe in my heart of hearts she helped to give me Lily,which happened shortly after her passing, as well as that my grandfather was smiling down on me from heaven through all of my adventures after his death, including falling in love with and marrying Kevin to having both my girls and so much more, as well.
Like Ava, my grandparents will always be a forever part of me and in my heart even if they aren’t physically here anymore. They helped to shape and mold me into who I am. For that and so much more, I am forever grateful, blessed and thankful that they were mine.
I knew this in my heart of hearts, but can’t thank Ava enough for allowing me to read and review her book, which put so much of this into perspective for me, as well as, for getting to share in her own heart warming autobiographical story.
Can’t say enough how this is a must read and believe that anyone who does indeed read her book will be that much better off that they did also.
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