Pickled Eggs and Tears


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Sometimes grief comes like a flash flood, hitting us suddenly and overwhelming the senses.

This week I found myself, tears streaming down my face, as I shopped for rice and canned beans and walked on to spaghetti sauce and pasta. It hit me so suddenly and I nearly recovered by the time I reached the orange juice. I wasn't ready for the sharp wave of recognition and connection, both because of the pandemic and because of the time that had passed.

I was partially blocking the aisle as I looked for 5 types of canned beans for several recipes we were planning for. I apologized to the old woman, masked, coming my way. I apologized, moving my cart out of her way as I realized she needed something there. We suddenly connected.

This has happened to me with strangers my entire life. They chat with me, pour out their life stories to me. I befriend them - sometimes for a minute and sometimes for years. I know the post man at my post office, for example. I know how he wishes he still knew the location of the old family cabin up in Maine that his parents took him to every year before someone else in the family sold it. I know he considers calling an aunt a few states away to see if she knows the address, but years have passed and he isn't sure about the call.

So people just chatting with me - that's normal. But it wasn't happening during the pandemic. Blame it on caution, on concern for thy neighbor, on fear, on the fact that we had not gotten used to doing life with masks over our noses and mouths. Whatever the reason, or combination of reasons, I had not made any new random friends in six months. And suddenly this week, here she was.

She explained that she was looking for a a jar of beets to pickle her eggs. My breath caught in my throat at the reminder that I hadn't heard anyone talk about pickling eggs in awhile. I responded without thinking, trying to speak clearly through my mask and keep my distance, "My grandma used to do that too." She said, "I just do it when I have too many eggs and they need to be used." and the rush of familiarity grew stronger in my heart. "It is just eggs, Ann!"  I heard my head tell me. Brushing the warning aside, I said, "That's why my grandma did it too!" and smiled, or tried to smize, at her over my mask. I added a cheery, "Good luck with your eggs!" as I pulled my cart toward the pasta and sauce to be sure that she recognized my being friendly despite not seeing my whole face.

As I walked away and quickly grabbed a thick spaghetti and a large can of diced tomatoes, I could feel the salt stinging in my eyes and tried to blink it away as I found a large can of crushed tomatoes. I had to blink harder and dry my eyes onto the shoulder of my shirt as I added  two jars of Tomato Basil spaghetti sauce to my cart and took a deep breath. I pushed the cart out of the aisle and thought fondly of my grandma, who hasn't made pickled eggs or called me or sent a card or taken a breath in almost four years, I miss her so.

After my grandma died, we went through her recipe book and I scanned each recipe to size and made it into an album of photo and recipes so that everyone could order one. Her pickled egg recipe is now a family favorite and makes us laugh. She made them so often that she didn't need many reminders of what was needed to make them. We laugh because "Eggs" is not even on the ingredient list, let alone any amounts. So try as we might, I do not know if we can replicate this particular dish she was known for making.

Sometimes grief comes like a flash flood, hitting us suddenly and overwhelming the senses. My grandma loved me so purely and always saw the good in me. It was such a wonderful example of unconditional love. I am so thankful for having her in my life. I miss her terribly. And I'm thanking the Lord for the lovely little old lady who is making pickled eggs this week.

Grace and Peace,


What am I about?

My business is about providing art opportunities in the Altoona community as well as portraiture photography work. As a creative person, I like to dabble in other areas that allow me to bear witness to others' lives and explore what brings us all together. Though If you would like to follow along, you can check out my last blog article or join my newsletter!


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