Wiping the sweat from my face, I glanced again at the directions on the faded pieces of paper neatly unfolded and placed on my old, wooden, kitchen table. The smell of sugar, vinegar, and spices simmering away on my stovetop transported me back in time almost 30 years, to my grandma and grandpa’s kitchen. The chrome-banded, yellow formica table and the dated yellow vinyl chairs, all sported shiny, metal legs that tapered to the floor. White rubber caps fixed to the end of each leg kept the chairs from sliding about and scratching the same linoleum that had been there since the 60’s. The top of the table, while always cluttered with notepads, pens, cigarettes, and boxes of Bugles, always had enough room for a snack and a good visit. Without fail, anytime you stopped by, you would find coffee in the coffee pot, soda in the back fridge and cookies in the cookie jar. Now, It seems to me that most people become known for something, and my grandparents were no exception. Grandma was know for knitting great sweaters and for making cookies, while Grandpa was known for his quirky sense of humor, fried chicken, and making great pickles. My whole life, Grandpa had been making pickles. He would forever be bringing us dill pickles, bread and butter pickles, mustard pickles, relishes, pickled asparagus and dilly- beans. His back porch had smelly crocks of fermenting sauerkraut that I hadn’t yet learned to appreciate. Grandpa shared his pickle wealth so abundantly that he became known among friends as “ The Pickle Guy". From childhood through adulthood, any time, any day, I could have my choice of pickles. ( When I was pregnant with my son I actually craved his sweet, tangy bread and butter pickles with chocolate ice cream, and ate them to my heart’s content.) Little by little, as I showed interest, Grandpa taught me to garden, to make jams and can my peaches. those in your life?
My sister wrapped her arms around me as the tears began to flood my eyes and spill down against my hot cheeks." I failed!" The words came out broken and caught dry in the back of my throat. I tried to swallow that choking feeling. " I thought I could do it," Words finally began to escape between sobs. "I failed!" I repeated myself louder, wanting to define my sense of defeat, and disappointment, but no more words would come out. Instead, I buried my face into her long, brown hair and closed my eyes. She pulled me in and began to speak truth to me." You didn't fail , you tried ." Her gentle words soothed me into a puddle of emotion as I sat hard against the couch and pulled myself away to recompose. "You tried. " she said, looking into my eyes, then kissed the top of my head. "You tried." Last year, I experienced a life threatening illness that not only left me fighting for my life, but also learning how to