I was on vacation this weekend when I found out that my Grandma Steffan had passed away. Even though I knew it was coming it was a sad moment for me because I hadn’t gotten the chance to see her one last time. I have been reflecting all weekend on different memories that I have of Grandma. My earliest memory of her is when I was 3 and we drove out to the farm to visit. My mom was about to marry her son. I remember her kind smile and her amusement at my excitement over all the animals. I hardly remember a time where Grandma wasn’t gentle and kind to me. That kindness meant a lot to a little girl who was grafted into a large family and often felt like she didn’t quite belong there. I never felt like she treated me different or loved me less than my younger brother and sister or my many, many cousins. I had an advantage over some of the cousins that I don’t think I really appreciated until I was older and moved away from home. Grandma lived right across from our home on the farm and I could go over there and visit any time I wanted to. I remember many things about her. She was always busy doing something but not so busy that she wouldn’t invite you to visit while she was working or invite you to help. Whether she was crocheting a blanket for the newest baby, or baking, she always made herself available to me. She let me help with the baking of the Kolache. For those of you who aren’t familiar with these delicious concoctions, they are a sweet dough filled with various fillings and they were amazing!!! All the grandchildren ate them as fast as she could produce them. I could never quite get the hang of twisting that dough the way she did and mine always looked a little sad and rejected but she never said so. She always told me that I did good and told Grandpa he should eat one that I made, because she was sure that they were really good. I remember her walking around with my younger brother and sister when they were babies and singing words over and over and I was never sure if they were just nonsense words or Bohemian, the language she and Grandpa spoke when they didn’t want anyone to understand what they were saying. I remember the way she laughed and laughed the time she found me in their unfinished basement, knocking on the walls. I was convinced that if I just took my time, I would find the secret passage that lead to somewhere really neat. I think she nearly laughed herself to tears over that, but she just said, “well, you never know, I guess.”.
I have had kolache a few times since leaving home, but they were just not the same at all. I have come to the conclusion that the reason Grandma’s tasted so good, was the love. It was put into everything she did for her large family. It was tangible. You could taste it in her kolache, feel it in her blankets, see it in her letters. Her love now has to live on in the memories that will be passed on about an amazing woman who lived a long life. She will be missed greatly by many.