Mysteries of Love and Grief

My grandmother Frieda was a frugal woman, a saver of string. She kept a big sugar bowl on the stove, filled with bacon grease. She scooped it out to fry potatoes or okra, or to season beans. Whatever food was left over at the end of a meal went into cups covered by pieces of waxed paper and secured with rubber bands. She never threw away a sheet, a washcloth, a cooking pot, a worn-out blouse. Thin linens folded neatly; eventually everything was thin. Worn clothes became rags or quilt scraps. Her house bulged with items saved for future use, too good to be thrown away. When she died there were still feed sacks from her parents’ farm folded in the hall cupboard with the towels.

Since her husband, Ira’s, death in 1936, she had cooked in railroad cars and then, when war made jobs for women, she had packed flour for General Mills. I lived with her for most of my childhood.

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