Gran’ma believed strongly in recycling and conserving natural resources.
Long before anyone talked about a carbon footprint she regularly used public transportation, reused newspapers for shelf liners and refuse, reused grocery paper bags taking them to the market to use over and over, washed out and reused plastic bags and containers for storing food or cartoning items in her miniature herb garden.
Even when she’d harvest seaweed and mussels from the ocean we ate it all. She’d caution “only take what you’ll eat … leave some for the next person and always leave enough to grow more.”
We ate in the kitchen at her table that seated only two diners at a time. She seldom sat down for a meal with us, so busy putting dishes on the table or moving them to the sink for consolidating foods or washing. Gran’ma stretched a meal until every morsel was eaten.
Food has always been expensive in Hawaii because almost everything is shipped from the Mainland or other countries. So she never wasted. There’d always be a huge pot of rice. In the center of the table sat a small dish of sugar and cup of milk for coffee. Then there’d be a bowl of curry stew, a dish of left over chow mein from last night, a plate of dried fish, a saucer of fried chicken from two days ago, a serving of fried rice, a few pieces of barbecued pork roast, some sort of steamed vegetables and sliced mango from Uncle Jr’s tree. A cold dish of sliced Maui onions, a teaspoon of sea salt, and a few peppers appeared for the adults.
And there was always the serving of sweets. Although she was a fabulous baker herself, when I was there she served Malasadas from Leonard’s Bakery because the family knew that was my favorite and my uncles made sure she had them to offer. Very thoughtful.
Once finished she’d take our plate, wash it then put it back on the table for the next diner. No one ate in any other room. Eating was confined to the table. Gran’ma was the last to eat. She’d finish up remnants from former meals . . . portions too small or too old to recycle . . . with her cup of coffee laced with Saccharine and milk she’d sit there enjoying her meal and the company of the people she served. She was a generous, attentive hostess.
Although we ate well and abundantly at Gran’ma’s house I can’t recall a big holiday spent at her table. Christmas, New Year, major holidays were celebrated at the family house where all the Aunties and Uncles catered the meal. Though Jesus was exalted in her home, Easter wouldn’t have been a big celebration at her house.
As the religious cornerstone of our family I think of her at this most holy time of year. I remember her generosity, her kindness, her love for Jesus and the prayers she showered over us when we were together or apart.
Happy Easter to Gran’ma Julia.