Walking through grandma’s apartment makes me think of Old Papa’s house. Grandma took care of her father as he slowly faded away at 92. By the time I was born my grandma lived at Old Papa’s house on the side of Mt. Olympus at the mouth of Mill Creek in Salt Lake City.
My great-grandfather, W.O. Collard, would tie me to his chair. This old shepherd couldn’t walk. He played with me, a 4-year-old bucky boy, by treating me like a young lamb – tying me to a chair like it was a sagebrush so I couldn’t wander off with the other sheep. The mother ewe wouldn’t go far from the lamb and this made it easier for the Shepard to keep track of the newly born. Those were different days, raising sheep out in the desert. No barn to lamb in, just the winter desert of central Utah.
I would struggle at his feet while grandma kept busy in the kitchen. I loved this game of escape. He never actually tied me like he did those lambs. After a few minutes of struggle I would break free. “Do it again! Do it again!” Grandma’s house has always smelled like Old Papa. Her new apartment smelled the same – fresh, clean, comfy, leather, love and lanolin. The art on the walls of pheasants, holly hocks, a trade between Indians and Pioneers at the back of a covered wagon – framed in hand carved oak – all followed grandma from her father’s house to her new little apartment.
Grandma is getting old and has a number of great-grandchildren now. As I look at all her stuff and listen to her talk, I think, no wonder I ended up raising sheep. Before I could speak I was staring at little porcelain sheep and burrowing my little cheeks into sheep skins stretched across the back of the couch. Old Papa whispered sheep herder songs in my ear until I feel asleep in his arms. Grandma always broiled lamb chops seasoned only with salt and pepper – a good piece of meat needs nothing else.
I wonder how far can the fruit fall from the tree? I clean with vinegar and baking soda, so does my grandma. Both of us believe salt, pepper and butter will make almost anything taste good. She’s stubborn, cantankerous and says whatever she wants. In the face of modernism, convenience, ease, entertainment and leisure she chose flavor and pleasure. When old papa said, as he often did, “this generation would starve to death in a potato patch” he was speaking of my grandmother’s generation. Grandma adored her father, a man who spent most his manhood wandering with sheep in the Wasatch mountains. He wasn’t impressed by the conveniences of the 1950’s and my granny echoed his distaste.
My grandma, Betty Glad, was the youngest of 13 children. At the end of my great grandparents’ life, my grandma was their caretaker. After her mom died and it was just old papa, grandma moved into his big house on the mountain side. She’s becoming as crippled as her father. This is why she’s moved into this new little apartment – grandma can’t keep a house anymore. I ask, who’s going to take care of her like she did her parents. She says “People don’t do that anymore.” And I think, and this is what they call progress.
Grandma’s Lamb chops
Salt and pepper 5 lamb chops. Put chops in deep cast iron baking dish. Add three cloves of chopped garlic (fancy option). Broil for 30 minutes.