She survived the Great Depression. During that time, she managed to successfully raise six children. She gave birth to one child in a tent and birthed another in a dug-out. She hand-picked cotton out of sharp, prickly bowls until her fingers bled. She lovingly massaged and bandaged her husband's sore arms; swollen from long, hard days of milking cows. She was a best friend and confidant to all three of her daughters. She patiently waited for all three of her sons to return home after military service. She mourned the loss of one child. She would walk several miles to visit her sister who was battling tuberculosis in a sanitarium. She saved the life of her nephew. She even managed to raise a rock star.
I never heard her say an unkind word about anyone. Her demeanor was always kind. She gardened, gleaned, preserved and canned. She made special treats like popcorn balls and peanut patties for her grandchildren at Halloween. She loved us unselfishly and equally. Her life was not simple by any means, yet she remained uncomplicated. I never heard her complain. She was reserved; not overly affectionate, but an ever gentle spirit that was a testament to her lovely name, Violet.
The lady I speak of was my Mamaw Curtis. My grandmother helped raise me. The simple kitchen you see pictured above belonged to her. She had no pantry, no dishwasher, not much counter or cabinet space...or floor space, for that matter. But somehow, some of the most wonderful meals came out of that little kitchen. One of my few regrets is that I didn't get her recipes before she left us. I have spent the past several years trying to replicate her stew, fried chicken and pork chops. In the process, I discovered the most important lesson a cook can learn...and I firmly believe it is something my Mamaw knew. Every dish tastes better if the first ingredient is Love.
Cooking and sharing good food with people I care about has become my passion. I owe a lot of that to my grandmother. Even though she has not been by my side, she has definitely been with me in spirit; guiding and inspiring me. From cooking to the way I parent, she continues to influence my daily life. I love her. I miss her. I'm proud to be her granddaughter.