I remember taking the bus to Grandma's house after school, and once or twice a week letting myself in the front door of her empty home. She would return home after sitting with her "patients" as I was halfway through my Tony's pizza, a root beer, and my second episode of Saved by the Bell. Every so often, she would let me know that she had changed families because a sick family member had passed away. If she was sad, she never showed it to me. I, on the other hand, could not even fathom being emotionally mature enough to build a relationship with someone so sick, so close to the end of her life. To be honest, it still impresses me that she (and other volunteers like her) was able to give her time to this cause. This is not to say that Grandma wasn't sad or didn't feel the loss in her own way, but I think years of work and years of life helped her to recognize and appreciate that with life comes death.
So clearly, on a beautiful day like today, participating in a run for "her" organization, she was on my mind. There are days when thinking of her death almost four years ago still leaves me feeling a bit raw. Before the race started, we all listened as the Winston-Salem State University marching band performing The Star Spangled Banner. I stood alone at this point, as David was already lined up for the 5K; the 10K race wouldn't start for another 15 minutes.
After the National Anthem, the announcer asked that we take a moment of silence in remembrance of all those who were part of the organization. As I closed my eyes and bowed my head, tears began to leak from my eyes and down my cheeks. The emotion caught me off-guard, and after the moment of silence was over, I tried to discretely wipe the tears away. I immediately felt a hand on my shoulder, and when I turned my eyes met those of a woman my father's age. She had come over to give me a hug! And the friend that was with her did, too. Of course, this leads to more tears on my part, because how can I not when greeted with such compassion? We exchanged words, wished each other luck, and parted ways.
This recipe is from Grandma's kitchen. She always had them on hand at Christmas time.
Betty Kelley [Grandma]
Preheat oven 350º
In a medium bowl or food processor, combine:
3 ounces cream cheese
1 stick butter
1 cup flour
Blend together until coarse meal forms. Chill 10 minutes. Remove the pastry dough from the fridge. Using your hands, make 24 individual balls. Press into greased mini-muffin pans.
In a small saucepan, blend together:
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
Blend together over medium heat. Reduce heat and spoon the filling into the unbaked shells.
Top with finely chopped pecans (about 1/2-3/4 cup).
Bake 25 minutes.
Remove from pan immediately. Let cool on wire rack.