On the Cutting Room Floor – Grandma Minnie and the Bones

Many readers of my memoir, The Wrong Calamity, tell me they love my Grandma Minnie. Here’s more to love—an episode that didn’t make it into the book: We were just back from five years in Japan, technically international travelers but actually babes in the woods who’d returned to the US just in time to face a recession. My little one was four months old and costing me a lot of sleep; my big girl, born in Japan, was two and trying to adjust to her new world; my husband was ostensibly looking for work and challenging to live with. I was drained. Grandma Minnie visited during this very hard time and saved the day. She gave me perspective, helped magically with the children, and she cooked. Cooked and cooked and cooked. The electric stove was new to her, and she learned by experience how to use it. The experience came in the form of a potful of bones. After she’d simmered those bones for a long time, to make a broth, she turned off the pot and joined me in the living room. Later, we heard burbling noises in the kitchen. The bones were boiling. She’d turned it to high instead of off. Well, who hasn’t done that? She turned it off again. Again, we later discovered it simmering. She turned it “off” and it boiled again. I’ll just say that for three full hours, repeat, repeat, repeat. But I’ll also say that for those hours, we laughed our heads off. As soon as our laughter started to dwindle, one of us would shout out, “Boiling the Bones!” and we’d start laughing again. During that time, I had my little one on and off my breast and my big one in and out of my lap, all of us more relaxed than we’d been in months. Laughter, the best medicine.

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