It has taken much longer than I ever imagined, but I've learned this along the way: no sticky globs of oats will do, and spare me broth without hearty substance. Those can never compare to my Gramma's gift of spinning simple ingredients into silken perfection.
She died the year I turned twelve, but like her oatmeal, my memories of her are warm and sweet and seasoned with a dash of saltiness.
Her kind words and gentle touch I well remember. “Honey, did you get enough to eat?” she would ask as she softly brushed her fingers across my hair.
Add to that a whispered tale of the time she wrestled another woman to the ground defending the honor of one of her eight children, and that was my Gramma.
For years, I hoped that if I used the right brand of oats, I could duplicate her results - but no.
If I followed the right directions, I would surely find success – but again, no.
If I tried with all my might to be like her, perhaps I could make her oatmeal – but even then, no.
All the while, as I was persevering through countless attempts and as many failures, my heart was slowly grasping the secret that would satisfy my memory; I loved my Gramma and so I loved her oatmeal. Finally, I understood that it was never about the way she made it, but that she made it, and served it to me with a piece of nearly burnt toast and a loving presence that transformed her humble offering into a feast for a little girl’s heart.
I made a bowl of oatmeal this morning. I don't know if it was perfect. I was thinking of my Gramma and all I could taste was the love.