Growing up I only had one grandparent that was still living. But my Grandpa O’Neill was such a powerful influence in my life he made up for the other three. He and I were besties. Though I had two older brothers I was his favorite. He was the only boy in his family of girls, and then had two daughters, so maybe he was just comfortable with women!
People ask me how I survived a childhood of abuse and neglect. I have three things that have gotten me through. The first is my faith, the second I’ve previously talked about which is food and cooking, and the third is my Grandpa O’Neill. It has been said that if a child experiences love from one person in their lives they have been exposed to an everlasting and eternal feeling that will sustain them. And thankfully I had thirteen years of love before my Grandpa passed away.
Some of my best memories of him are when he would take me for a walk from my house on South side of Chicago to the local bowling alley. We never actually bowled, but there was a vending machine there and he would always buy me my favorite candy Milk Duds!
Now just to say that my Grandpa O’Neill could be a very cranky and critical guy. So don’t think he was all warm, fuzzy, and lovey dovey. In fact he had me in tears quite a few times. Once when I stayed at his house I wanted to cook him breakfast. I pulled up the chair to the stove and tried to make his favorite sunny side up eggs. Unfortunately the egg yolks broke and rather than waste it I decided to make the eggs scrambled. When I served them he was livid! So I offered to go back and try again and he said, “forget it I’ll eat these!” It’s no wonder I became a chef since my first meal got a scathing review before the patron had taken their first bite!
Over time I eventually learned how to make his eggs just right! And to this day whenever I pass a vending machine and see Milk Duds for sale I have to buy them in his honor! Your turn! What are your favorite memories of a grandparent and what is your favorite candy?