Early portrait of Elizabeth Wleklinski Oberlander, 1960s
My maternal grandmother died in 1998. From the time I was a year old she was my “mother” and her influence in my life, the lessons she taught me and the things I learned from her are ingrained in my life to this day. Although she is gone her ways continue on in those of us that were listening and watching, who take the time to repeat what she taught, and continue to pass on what we learned to those that are coming after us.
It was going on two days since Noble had a bowel movement and finally Adrian agreed to let me try. I took the little one into the bathroom. I laid him on the table on his tummy. I sliced the smallest piece of Ivory soap and placed it in his little tush. He screamed bloody murder, but then again that is Noble’s normal way of communicating his feelings. I put a diaper on him and held him upright against my chest with his feet on my palm. Within minutes his face contorted in effort, he turned red, grunted several times and viola! he pooped. I called Adrian, who had at first refused to watch, not wanting to see her baby in distress, and together we watched Noble relieve himself of the bad stuff clogging up his system.
Four diapers later and he was cleaned out. He nursed heartily then slept peacefully for two hours. My daughter thanked me as I am sure I did when I followed my grandmother’s advice.
This was an incident where my grandmother was foremost on my mind as I performed a remedy that is required only on occasion, but I know that in my daily life her teaching is with me always. It is with me as I work in the kitchen making meals. Like her I rarely use a recipe book; rather I put a pinch of this and that, I experiment with what sounds good and almost every time what I make is delicious. She is with me in the garden as I look on my blooms with satisfaction. Her admonitions come pouring out of my mouth when I say the Polish translation of “Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!”
My grandmother is a decade gone but only in the physical sense; she lives on in the forty-some years she had to teach me her ways. Her legacy will continue on as the memory of me, soap, and Noble’s relief one day in the year 2010 is recalled some forty-odd years down the road. Traditions are meant to be carried on and I am grateful I had someone in my life to teach me theirs. Thank you, “Mom.”
Grandmother with my two daughters, Erin and Adrian (Long Island, NY, 1982)
Bonding with Erin (age 2 months)
Giving Erin her first taste of meat! I wasn't happy about it at the time, but she knew best.