Remembering my beautiful, blue-eyed spitfire of a grandma (whose first name I share) on what would have been her 101st birthday. Born a farm girl in central PA, my grandma got herself on a train to New York City and put herself through nursing school. She remained in NYC and eventually met my grandfather, Dr. Alexander Franco, when they were both working at the same hospital. After many years building a successful private practice, they retired back to 'the hills of home' in PA where they had a lovely farm with horses and big gardens and plenty of room for a little kid to wander and dream and re-enact the opening scenes from 'the sound of music.' smile emoticon
My grandmother was a strong-willed, indomitable spirit. She was smart as a whip and extremely industrious (and yes, maybe even a little bossy). She was a phenomenal cook and seamstress and had a head for all matters practical. She fostered my own passion for cooking and baking for others by letting me help her with everything she did in the kitchen—from preparing big family meals (for swarms of relatives), to baking hundreds of cookies and pies, to scrubbing, prepping, and canning/jarring countless bushels of vegetables from my great-uncle's gardens. She was also the consummate caregiver, always helping the "little old ladies" from church or her garden club (who were often not much older than she) by taking them to lunch and appointments. She made sure others never went without and always magically had some fresh coffee and a sandwich to anyone who drove up the lane to her house 'just for a visit.' She paid attention to the unnoticed, sending birthday and holiday cards to folks many others never took the time to acknowledge. She was a night owl, loved playing cards and monopoly with her grandchildren, and stayed up with me reading on nights when I felt too scared or anxious to sleep. Her heart was much bigger than her little 4'11" body and she always had a twinkle in her eye, especially when she laughed.
Happy birthday, Sarah E. Johnson Franco. I'll love you forever but always feel you closest to me when I'm throwing flour around in the kitchen heart emoticon.