Hope for Hard Times

It was a long drive from our dusty farm to Grandma’s lakeside cabin. Each mile brought memories of my idyllic childhood, but the peaceful thoughts quickly evaporated remembering our eminent financial demise. 

My husband and I were nearly broke. Taking this trip had been cost-foolish, but it was too late to save what we were losing. Now I was grasping for anything leftover to believe in.

Grandma had always been pragmatic and ambitious. She’d worked full time while putting herself through nursing school. Having two small daughters to care for in the midst Great Depression, she and her husband knew about sacrifice. She believed in God and marriage—and holding onto both when life got hard.

Who better to bring my financial lament?

I sat in the kitchen with Grandma. My expression told the story, but as I explained how bad things were, Grandma went to work.

I watched her take a large mixing bowl and scoop in cups of white flour.  She deftly added some sugar, a pinch of salt, yeast, warm milk, and melted butter. With a large wooden spoon she mixed the dough.

Her gray hair was wound up in her trademark French twist, and her rhythmic kneading calmed my anxiousness. She carefully arranged the loaves in two darkened pans—nearly black from steady use.

I wondered how many loaves had risen on that ancient woodstove’s warming tray. She listened to me as she followed a decades-old routine—hand washing her utensils, checking the stove box, and carefully arranging the wood so her bread would bake at the perfect temperature.

Soon the smell of bread filled the cabin. I’d exhausted my litany of complaints. Pulling the loaves from the oven, she placed them on racks to cool. I watched as she opened a small jar of her homemade huckleberry jam. Taking an old serrated knife, she carved thick slices.

While my situation was just as bleak as before, savoring the tastes and smells from my childhood reassured me that even though some things hadn’t worked out, the best things still remained—God, marriage, and family. 

And having the best things is all I would ever need as I continued life’s journey.

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