A memory from when I was about 5. (or 6?)
My grandparents drove from Alberta to Ontario in their pick up truck with their trailer on the back. They parked, unloaded and camped on our lawn for the summer.
One morning we climbed into the truck, my grandparents and I. As the oldest of four kids, it was a treat to get time alone with adults and I was thrilled to be seen as so grown up as to be able to handle a day trip without my parents.
I sat between the two of them on a little cushion to raise me enough to see over the dash. We listened to cassettes on the built in tape deck and I got to choose. The interior of the truck was beige. The cushion was floral. The music was hymns. The day was sunny. My grandpa was loud and my grandma smelled good.
We drove for what felt like all day but was probably a couple hours and we finally arrived at the church camp my grandparents had attended decades earlier, before they moved three provinces away.
We went to church that morning. The German sermon felt familiar but went over my head. The German conversations were the same.
We ended up at someone’s cottage for lunch. I didn’t know them but they knew me. A whole crowd of old people telling me they knew my mother when she was a child, hugging me, face first, into their floral dresses, pinching my cheeks.
We sat at a long table, everyone crowded around, excited to reconnect and reminisce with my grandparents while we ate.
I ate. And ate. And ate. I remember the hostess being thrilled at how much I was enjoying the food and offering me more and more. As a parent, I now know how much pleasure it brings to watch a child eat well, so retrospectively I understand why every time I’d ask for another there’d be laughter and German chatter. At the time I just thought these old people were funny.
That was the day I fell in love with cabbage rolls.