Writer’s Workshop: Brunch at Grandma’s

This is another mashup, with the regular Writer’s Workshop combining with Wednesdays for my Wife, because Mary suggested this.


Grandma Holton and I, circa 1972 (Photo: Fabulous Auntie Jill)

I talk about Grandma Holton a lot here, mostly because she was such a great person and loved me, and, when Mary joined the family, her as well. She was just that kind of person. After Dad died, Mom considered moving us to California, but decided not to, because she didn’t want to leave Grandma. And I’m happy she felt that way.

Once, Grandma invited Mary and me over for brunch. When we got to her apartment, she and her sister Florence invited us back to the dining room, where she had laid out a spread, complete with ham steak, eggs, coffee cake, hash browns, toast, coffee, and, because she knew Mary liked tomatoes, sliced tomatoes. Now, Grandma and Florence were older women, and many years before Grandma had terrible ulcers and had three-quarters of her stomach removed, so neither of them ate too much. However, there must have been enough food for a battalion there. When I say there were sliced tomatoes, I think Grandma had bought the two biggest tomatoes at the store and sliced both of them. The ham steak was the size I used to buy for Mom and the three of us boys, and there was enough coffee cake to put a person into hypoglycemic shock.

Grandma said, “You two get started, I have to get the coffee. And remember, I don’t want any leftovers!”

Mary poked me after the two ladies had gone into the kitchen. “I’ll work on the tomatoes, you work on the ham.” She knew by then that, when Grandma was cooking and asked if you wanted more, you didn’t say, “No thank you, Grandma, I’m full,” you said “I surrender!”

About an hour later, we finished, and had done a good job of not leaving any leftovers. I was feeling a little bloated, and I’m sure Mary was as well. That’s when Grandma said, “Johnny, I have one egg left. Can I hard-boil it for you?”

I love hard-boiled eggs, and Grandma was the only person I knew who could (or would) make them, but I was stuffed. “Grandma, really, I’m stuffed…”

“Please, Johnny, I have one egg left, and we won’t eat it. Won’t you have it?”

How could I refuse? “Sure, I’d love it.”

She went to the kitchen and put the egg on to boil and came back, and we sat and talked and had a wonderful time. All of a sudden, out in the kitchen, we hear


It startled all of us, even Grandma, who was quite hard of hearing. She sprang from her chair and trotted out to the kitchen. A minute later, we hear her cackling, and she came back into the room with the pieces of the egg.

“I’m sorry, John, but we were having such a good time talking I completely forgot about your egg!”

It’s memories like this that make me realize how much I miss her. They don’t make ’em like Grandma anymore.

42 thoughts on “Writer’s Workshop: Brunch at Grandma’s

  1. What a treasure she was! And how wonderful of you to write down your memories for other family members and friends to enjoy!


    1. Eventually (probably some time this year) I’ll take my memoir blog entries and put them together in an ebook. Maybe make a few cents off them.

      Grandma Holton loved everyone (except politicians; couldn’t stand them). She was a great person.


  2. Thankyou for sharing. Reminds me of a million memories of my nana who just passed away a couple of months ago. Nanas are the best. šŸ™‚


    1. She was. Loved everyone, including Mom’s second husband, who she treated like a son, and like my brother says above, she was his Grandma, too. I ran into someone on Facebook whose mother was Grandma’s landlady, and he said she was wonderful with his kids. She was definitely special.

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  3. She sounds like a strong sweet lady. I love that you are preserving your history here. I look forward to you bringing your stories to the table every so often for the rest of us get to “know” them as well. šŸ™‚


  4. What an amazing story, John. I was transported to their apartment. I love these memories as I know the players, but was too young to really see them in the way you did. Although not blood, Kate Holton was only and always called simply “Grandma” by me. She was amazing and I loved her tremendously. She was my grandma, period. Between her and Cash, I was very lucky. Please keep the stories coming….you tell them amazingly well.


    1. Thanks, Pat. Grandma thought of Mom as a daughter, and couldn’t have happier when your dad married her. You were as much as grandchild as any of us.


  5. Grandmas are the best, aren’t they? Your memory brought up one of my memories of my grandparents. When I was a little girl and would sometimes stay the night, my grandparents had “Emily” parties. I don’t remember much about them, only that they made me feel really special! Stopping by from Mama Kat’s.


  6. She sounds like an amazing woman! My grandmother is infamous for pawning any leftovers from a meal on her guests as they leave – it’s no use telling her your fridge is full or so and so is dieting. You take the leftovers. Period.


    1. She went through a lot in life, but was tough and never let it destroy her sense of humor. Interesting your grandmother would send people home with leftovers; she had Sunday dinner with us almost every week (with her sister and my mother’s aunt) and we would send leftovers home with them.


  7. Nice story, John. I don’t remember Bunny thinking of moving to California.


    1. We took a trip out there the year Dad died and spent a couple of weeks there. I didn’t know it at the time, but she was interviewing for jobs when we were in Palo Alto (when we stayed with the Brufkes; he was working on his doctorate at Stanford) and San Rafael (we stayed with your cousin Donna; I think that’s where they lived). While we were at your cousin’s that Mom got a call from her principal at Goudy, and never figured out how she knew we were there… Later Mom told me that she decided not to leave Chicago because she didn’t want to take us from Grandma, although I think she was just as reluctant to leave Grandma. They were very close.


  8. Hi John,
    Your Gramdma Kate was quite a lady. I love reading your Kate and Florence stories, they bring back such wonderful memories of the good times in your life. We had lots of laughs about both of them. Great ladies.

    Love, Jinx


  9. Florence was the first adult I heard use the f word. She was in the pantry and knocked something off the high shelf. Classic.


  10. At least you didn’t have to eat the egg because you may have blown up from all the food:) Was this your father’s mother? I feel very bad for her that she had to deal with her son passing away before her. She sounds like a special person who truly touched your life in the best way. Makes me think of my wonderful Oma.


    1. Grandma had a couple of tragedies in her life: she lost her daughter to scarlet fever before Dad was born, she lost her youngest (my dad) and her oldest, her husband dropped dead at the bridge table and she was left with four boys, she went through her sister Florence’s cancer and death. She was very fond of Mom’s second husband, and when he died I think she just sort of gave up. She was a tough old lady who saw a lot in her 92 years.


      1. Wow……this is so sad to read but it shows what a survivor she was…one strong lady who must have had a deep soul.


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