My Gran used to make sandwiches for the Legion. I used to love going to that big industrial kitchen with her during summer vacation. My job was to lay out the bread and spread the butter. We would make sandwiches all morning, for lunches and celebrations and funeral receptions. In her kitchen at home we would make sandwiches too, sandwiches for church meetings, teas and funeral receptions. My grandmother had a great fondness for funeral receptions, she used to sneak into receptions of strangers when she was a kid. "Just for the sandwiches." she would say "Funerals have the best sandwiches." Tiny pinwheel sandwiches with creamed cheese and cherries and dainty egg salad and cucumber sandwiches with the crusts cut off.
Then there was the Salmon Sandwich. We often enjoyed 'everyday' salmon sandwiches at the kitchen table. Sandwiches made with the world's best white bread spread with Sherwood Dairy butter and pink salmon dressed with miracle whip, salt, pepper, minced onion and a splash of white vinegar sprinkled from the 7up bottle with the daisy sprinkler top on it. Those were some great sandwiches. Served on a paper towel and washed down with a tiny glass of milk or Re'monade. As much as I loved those sandwiches there was something better...the funeral Salmon Sandwich, made with the same care, technique and attention. The only difference was the salmon. Sockeye! In the back of my Gran's cupboard, behind the tins of pink salmon were cans and cans of Sockeye Salmon; dark, rich, coral coloured luxury. Sockeye was expensive by home-economic standards which made it special. Gran would always stock up when the A&P hosted a sale. Death is the only certainty in life and there had better be Sockeye Salmon in the cupboard in case it happens. As I got older I knew that if I wanted a salmon sandwich at Gran's and there was only Sockeye in the cupboard I better get out the peanut butter.
If ever I walked into the kitchen and saw empty Sockeye tins at the sink side, waiting to be crushed, I would ask "who died?" Gran always chuckled, then proceeded with the obituary. Most of the people I didn't know, but I was always touched by the comfort my Gran could offer though a simple sandwich on white bread.
When my Gran passed away I only had one request, that Sockeye Sandwiches be served at her funeral luncheon. There was, after all, no more fitting way to honour her than with her own method of comforting others.
So today, I think I will find the time to make up some Sockeye sandwiches and offer up some of my Gran to help Michael with the loss of his own.
|Michael & his Lovely Gran|