Tomorrow is my great-grandmother, Leila Hazlett’s 100th birthday. Wow. There aren’t enough words for me to express how much this woman means to me (and to my entire family) and how very blessed and lucky I am to still have her in my life. In fact, it’s a good thing that I’m typing this, otherwise I wouldn’t be able to finish my sentences at all….I can hardly talk about Baba without tearing up. I know there’s no way you can know how special Baba is or what she means to us. But believe me when I tell you, this is one amazing woman.
Most people look up to their grandmothers and try to be like them, etc. I don’t just look up to Baba, I channel her. I strive, on a daily basis to be the kind of woman she was and is. She raised 4 kids and took care of a husband during wars, the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl; she didn’t have ready made pie crusts, boxed brownie mixes or bags of frozen vegetables, yet there were always warm, delicious meals on the table every single day. She fed, clothed and nursed an entire household and did it with a smile on her face. She and Pop had the kind of marriage every couple dreams of- trusting, passionate, caring. As kids, she’d let us play with her old paper dolls, rummage through her jewelry boxes and play with her old bottle collection. She put together little cricket boxes for my sister and me filled with small little trinkets and tidbits that would probably be worthless to most people, but to us they’re treasures. She had the entire family over for Sunday dinner week after week. When I spent the night, she’d let me take a bath in her big claw-foot tub with her good bath beads and let me use her cold cream (to this day, I still love the smell of Ponds cold cream); then I’d go to sleep wearing one of her long nightgowns. She told us stories. SO many stories! The same stories that I’ll tell my children and grandchildren someday.This is no ordinary woman. She is a proud, strong, graceful Southern lady and she’s everything I want to be.
And she was one heck of a cook. Every time I step in my kitchen, I try to channel Baba. I now take pride in cooking meals and taking care of my home and husband. I have family over every chance I get. This is what Baba taught us- take pride in your family and cherish them. And serve them hot, steaming plates of fried chicken, homemade buttermilk biscuits and a gorgeous, flaky, golden peach cobbler. Food is important. Food brings a family together around a table. Baba’s peach cobbler is sublime. It’s what I’ll eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day in Heaven. I’ve never made one on my own before. I’ve always been afraid of falling short. Maybe this is the year to honor Baba and my heritage with the dish that holds my family together like glue. We’ll see. This blog and all my cooking successes and disasters is dedicated to Baba. This is why I’m so proud to cook – because every time I create a new recipe for my family, it brings me one step closer to being more like Baba. I thank God for her. I’m so lucky that she’s gotten to be a part of so many important events in my life and my sister’s life. She got to see us both get married and begin our own families. She’s gotten to hear all about my operas and my travels overseas. She’s seen my marriage blossom and grow and she’s gotten to see what a wonderful, godly man I married. Baba has impacted every life she’s encountered and our family is SO blessed to be celebrating the 100th birthday of the most special woman in the world.
Happy Birthday, sweet Baba. I love you.