My great grandmother was alive for most of my life - which was a pretty amazing gift. I came to appreciate it much more as I aged and realized not everyone had that. And not only did I have her in my life - she was just amazingly awesome. She loved all of us great-grandkids too; there were a lot of us!! My mother was one of nine kids... so she already had nine grandchildren... and then came to have 20+ great-grandchildren... and she always was there for us. My mom would take us over to her house, a really cool little ranch with a neat garden out back, a walnut tree... a candy dish full of Brach's mixed candy for us to have whenever we wanted, and a basement full of books. Just thinking about it all as I write makes me smile. I miss her very much, especially as I've aged and had children of my own. But I am so happy for the long life she lived.
At family gatherings, she used to make trays full of what came to be known as "Nanny Chicken". Now the actual secrets of preparation are secret, but in my own estimation, it's basically "Shake n' Bake" with a few twists. Whatever the case, it was always delicious - and a hit at our large get togethers! What I love is that now she's gone, my Mom and her sisters will make it for family gatherings now. It's referred to as "Nanny Chicken" and every time we have it... the taste reminds me of her, and all the great things she brought into our lives. This kind of silly thing is how people live on - and, let's be real - food is love. I love that in this small way, we keep her close during important family times. I love that I have the honor of this in my life... that I get to be a part of something that celebrates someone like that. The old matriarch of our family. These are the things that really matter in life - and not everyone is gifted with them. I was just very, very lucky to be born into what I was, and I remind myself of that on the harder days, when I start to feel like life's been unfair to me. I have had to deal with a lot over the years - but now more than ever I realize it's the idea and celebration of things like "Nanny Chicken" that have carried me through the tough times. That's love. That's real. That is what the fight is all about. That is what the struggle to survive in the face of doom is about.
Course, I love the esoteric idea behind it all, but right now... I want a plateful of Nanny Chicken all the same. Cause that stuff was delicious.