Happy Mother’s (and Grandmother’s) Day! A Poem for my Grandma Zook

I have been blessed with an amazing mother, and two outstanding grandmothers.  Mother’s Day is a natural time to reflect on the blessings of mother’s, blood or not. Take time to thank those in your life that have taken on the role of mothering you, or loved you like a mom, or actually brought you into the world.

“Is Grandma Zook a real person?” It’s a question I get asked several times a week, and YES, she is a real person!  This picture of me sitting in her lap is about 46+ years ago, sucking my thumb.  Mother’s Day makes me think of her especially, since her birthday was May 14th.  There is something special about grandmas, even if you have an amazing mom, like I do.  Grandmas have time to pour into your life, in most cases.  She taught me so much, and she loved nurturing my love of baking, gardening, and keeping house. I miss her!

My Grandma and Grandpa Zook died together on May 23, 1997.  I was watering my flowerbed, when my brother called. I was 9 months pregnant with our son Jeff, so my brother didn’t want to tell me.  He demanded that I get my husband to the phone.  He told Kenny that we needed to get to my grandparent’s house, that Grandpa had a heart attack.

We drove to their home in East Earl, about a mile from Shady Maple.  My grandma had prepared lunch, just like she always did. I’ll never forget what it was, because I cleaned it up, just as I had done so many times before.  Chicken breasts cubed and sautéed in a beautiful saffron cream sauce, white fluffy rice, and vegetables smothered in butter. The table was set with the desert rose dishes she left to me (place settings for 48 people!).  She went to the door to call for him at lunch time and saw him laying in the garden where he had been working.

She knew it was bad. She called my mom and 911 and went to his side to help him.  What she didn’t know, was that she called the ambulance for herself.  While she was trying to help him, she suffered a massive heart attack as well.  When the ambulance arrived, she was laying over him. Though they tried to revive her, they died together in their garden within moments of each other.

When I arrived, she was on her way to hospital but she never revived… on earth.  Though my grandpa was laying in the garden, and grandma was in the ambulance, neither of them were there. They were in heaven together.  It was the hardest day of my life, up until that point.  The picture below is the precise spot where my grandpa died, the memories I have of planting, pruning, picking, eating, and working in that garden were suddenly swept away as I sat in the garden holding his hand, until the coroner came.

I wrote this poem for their funeral in 1997.

In her kitchen the day began
Before the dawn broke and
before the birds sang.

The smell of eggs frying
The toast on my plate
Some fruit, or some bacon
It was always first rate.

She’d pack his lunch
We would pray and eat
And before I knew it…
He was out of his seat.

There in the kitchen
She taught me to cook
She canned, froze, and baked
She needed no books.

I’d measure the ingredients
She showed me the way
I’m sure I was on her nerves
But she never did say.

The entire day spent
On chores of the home
Cooking and cleaning
She need not roam.

In her kitchen I learned
That cooking is more
Than preparing and slicing
The things bought at the store.

It’s the time that is spent
And the care that’s put in
For things always taste better
When you put lots of love in.

What I wouldn’t do
To taste one of her pies
To peel corn, or freeze peas,
Or just look into her eyes.

Until that day comes
I’ll remember the days
There in her kitchen
Learning her ways.

A hundred years from now…
It won’t matter what kind of car I drove, what kind of house I lived in, nor how much money was in my bank account.  But the world may be better because I was important in the life of a Child. I thank God for all of my grandparents and the time they spent pouring into my life.

Stop in for Mother’s Day gifts, planters, hanging baskets, baked goods, or grocery items. We are opened from 9-5 Tuesday through Saturday.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Anna Kathryn Lapp Zook’s Granddaughter, Angie