Grandaddy's Pancakes

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Booksie Classic
A reflection piece on family, love and growing up.

Submitted: September 05, 2014

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Submitted: September 05, 2014

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I made my way into the kitchen, slowly, rubbing the sleep out of my eyes. Before me stood Granddad, hunched over the stove in his thick dark grey bathrobe. When he realized I had walked into the kitchen, he turned his head slowly to me, his eyes sad but his smile bright and warm, filling the room. ‘I was trying to make them for you. They’re still your favorite, right?’ I picked up my lazy pace and went straight to him, grabbing the mixing bowl from his hand; too heavy for him to hold and remain upright at the same time. ‘You know me too well,’ I said and put an arm around his back to stabilize him until we reached his chair. ‘But let me make them for us this time.’ He sent me the same, sad-eyed, happy-smile and nodded in agreement reluctantly. As I went about my work, setting fire to the stove, mixing the batter and flipping the small pancakes to cook evenly, I fought to hold back the tears, so that he wouldn’t see. He needed strength.

 

I turned around and smiled at him. I saw Granddad, ninety-three, soon to be ninety-four, holding his decaf coffee, looking off into the distance, lost in thought it seemed. How things truly do come full circle, I thought to myself, turning back to the stove to flip the pancakes. I can’t remember the first time I was introduced to this tradition: Grandaddy’s pancakes every visit to his house. I must have been less than five years old, and I must have loved them so much that I begged him for more every visit afterwards. Before long, it became something that went without asking. I would wake up in the guest room, purposefully sleeping in an extra half hour, until the smell of hot maple syrup and sweet flour pancakes floated upstairs, immediately pulling me out of my half-slumber. Within the space of a minute, my covers were thrown back, my slippers would be on and I was flying across the hallway and down the stairs before he could even say ‘breakfast is ready!’

 

These were no ordinary pancakes. They were Grandaddy’s pancakes. All of his grandchildren would swoon around the kitchen when they were cooking, anxious to be the one with the first bite. It was almost a competition. I remember I could eat twenty at a time, granted they were small. The stomachache afterwards was well worth the indulgence. I honestly don’t know how he did it. Aunt Jemima’s original mix, a bit of smeared butter, and pure maple syrup is far too simplified a description for the magical pancakes that he made for us. I used to think that he must put in just a dash of some secret ingredient to get that perfect flavor that was unable to be emulated by anyone else. As I grew older and became more watchful over his technique, I realized that he did not mix in anything out of the ordinary at all.

 

While I stood there, years later, roles reversed, with him sitting anxiously at the table to be served as I patiently waited to flip the next cake, it dawned on me what it was that made his pancakes so special. It was love. It was something he could give me that I could never get tired of. His pancakes were a symbol of his love for each of his grandchildren, and we swallowed every bite of it and begged him for more, while he would smile grandly and throw back his head in laughter. As I gently sat down in front of him his plate of steaming pancakes I just made, he looked up at me, eyes full of gratitude and appreciation, a look I must have given him a thousand times before. ‘These are delicious. More please!’ he said from the other side of the kitchen, within a minute of me setting them down in front of him. I turned away from the stove, and smiled back at him, before preparing another pile of those wonderful little pancakes, their flavor full of my love for him. 

 

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