If you’ve ever used the saying “bread and butter”, you might be superstitious or you might be someone that likes to keep loved ones close. For those that are superstitious, the phrase is said when something comes in between you and the person you are with when walking in a public place. For someone that likes to keep loved ones close, the phrase is more than just a superstitious line. Rather, it is a reminder that eventually loved ones will be together again.
I first heard this somewhat-strange phrase from my grandmother. I can’t tell you how old I was, but I was young enough to still have to hold an adult’s hand while out in public. Any time I was in public with my grandparents as a child and I had to let go of one of their hands because of an obstruction, i.e. a lamp pole or walking in a door, my grandmother would say “bread and butter”. As a small child, I never really understood this statement and thought it had something to do with food and as luck would have it, my grandmother was a fantastic cook. Through years of once or twice a year visits, I got used to hearing this phrase from my grandma and I begun to understand the sentiments of loved ones coming back together. For my grandmother, I think the phrase held more sentiment than I ever will understand. With family spread across the country, it was sometimes uncertain when we would see one another again so while we were together, she would take every opportunity to remind us that although the future was fuzzy, we would see one another again.
My grandmother’s health declined over time, which made the distance between us feel like it grew further than the actual distance in miles. Phone calls became shorter and more to the point with a lot of emphasis on medicine and doctors. With most of this happening while I was in my last two years of college, I didn’t comprehend the situation until I visited my grandmother in July of this year. Upon visiting, I found the same spunky, kind, generous, and loving grandmother that never failed to miss a birthday or holiday card during my childhood. I also found that she wasn’t as physically able as the woman who once kept up with three children of her own, three grand children, and countless children that she helped during her time as a library volunteer in a local school. In recollecting all of this to share back with other family and close friends, I found myself saying that the situation was, in some ways, better than I thought and, in other ways, worse than I though. During our short visit, we had many ups and downs. Throughout all of this, I learned that my connection to my grandmother was based on more than just family or love, I was drawn to this woman in a different way. Perhaps, it was because she had shown me how to paint my nails or that we shared similar clothing styles, but I think it was more than just the small things. This woman had shown me how to be strong, to show compassion to others, and most importantly, how to love unconditionally despite physical distance.
In many ways, my grandmother kept our family together, both physically and mentally. I don’t doubt that she will continue to do this for us in the future as we will remember how much she meant to all of us and how she brought all of us together, like “bread and butter”.