M M y grandmother died on Christmas Day, 2007. You could say that the years of smoking Chesterfield unfiltered cigarettes and drinking whisky caught up with her, but I might argue the opposite -- by the time it got her she was 87 and rarely went to the doctor. She'd let it catch up.
My grandmother waited until her family - having come from Boston, Florida, Ohio and everywhere else -- had surrounded her, and then she passed. Whether or not you believe in a higher power is immaterial when you witness a person hold on to something fiercely, and once they have it, finally feel ready to let go.
In her honor, my sister and cousins and everyone else raised a glass of Canadian Club on rocks and did what we do when honoring the dead: talked about her foibles and idiosyncrasies. We joked about her tendency to meet any talk of sickness with a better, more debilitating sickness ("if you said you had a cold, she had the flu. If you had the flu, she had pneumonia. If you had pneumonia, she said she was dead," my grandfather used to joke). We talked about her love of big-band music and playing the penny slots, the way she could respond to my grandfather with bitingly funny retorts in her unmistakable low voice, pebbled by years of smoking and drinking.
There was talk of finding a pack of Chesterfield cigarettes or eating the full-size candy bars she kept in her drawer. No one mentioned Fluffernutters. But around midnight, as I grew hungry, I found myself milling about the kitchen and, for whatever reason, I decided I needed to make one of those damn sandwiches. I found the Fluff, and the peanut butter, and saw a leftover half-loaf of bread from an Italian dinner we’d had earlier. The bread inside was fresh baked and dense and would be delicious slightly toasted and spread with peanut butter and Fluff. But that wasn't my purpose. I pushed it aside and found the Wonder Bread, took out a spoon and, in my grandmother's style, shoveled three helpings onto the middle of the bread, which sagged like an overweighted trampoline.
I smooshed it together and took a bite.
It was gloppy and soggy and almost uneatable. It was perfect.