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Great Grammie’s French toast was famous.

(By famous, I mean that the eight people who knew her enjoyed it tremendously.)

Grammie’s circle was smaller than small, so word never really got around about just how delicious her French toast truly was.

But it made its way to me.

My husband spoke ever so lovingly about his grandmother, in a way I hadn’t ever heard him speak before (or since).

She was four feet ten inches of maple syrup and sunshine.

Never an unkind word to or about anyone.

Reading her Bible daily.

Watching the birds outside her kitchen window each morning.

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Journaling daily and sending weekly letters to her daughter.

Hasn’t missed a Sunday at church in 98 years.

Dunks her tea bag three times, gives it a careful squeeze, and places it gently on a saucer in the fridge to last her a few more days.

And perhaps most importantly, she always made French toast for breakfast when her grandsons would stay over.

It was a long trek for them to visit when he was younger, one they sadly only made a few times a year.

A trip my husband happily made more often as an adult than as a child.

A journey we joyfully took to tell her when we got engaged, planned our wedding, and shared the news of our pregnancy.

She was still living independently when I met her, but a bit too frail to do any real housekeeping, cooking, or cleaning.

So one special trip, I made a batch of my oven-baked French toast and we drove it up to her.

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The electrical in her house was just about as old as she was, so reheating it was a bit tricky. She excitedly showed us which outlets were “less likely to burn the place down” and we were in business.

Brunch for seven was served on the good china with puddles of Vermont maple syrup. She was in her element—hosting a small family gathering, eating a delicious meal, quietly observing all of us, and savoring each bite.

Savoring each moment.

After breakfast, my husband got to doing what he does best: the dishes.

Grammie perched on her little stool beside him, listening with adoration while he chattered away about his work, our home, my job, our adventures together.

She looked genuinely pleased while she dried each dish with a tea towel, carefully placing them back in the cupboards.

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It was a tedious task, washing and drying and putting away everything by hand. Something we usually would have eased with the help of our friendly dishwasher.

But Grammie’s smile never faded and I gently asked her about it.

“My dear girl, do you know how long it has been since I’ve had a sink full of dishes? I only ever have one cup, one glass, one plate, one bowl, one fork, one spoon, and one knife. Why I haven’t seen this many dishes piled up in ages! Nor any occasion to even take them out of the cupboards. What a blessing it is when there are this many dishes in the sink because it means there is so much family to love!”

Inside me surged a wave of guilt, a rush of regret, and a tummy twisting knot of selfishness.

My own kitchen is often littered with mugs of coffee or tea, cups of juice or water, plates with half-finished snacks, platters with meals waiting to go into Tupperware. I run out of clean forks and spoons in the drawer on practically a daily basis (seriously though—where do they all go?!?!)

I look at my dirty dishes as a burden.

Grammie looks at hers as a blessing.

So much love in one room.

So much family to feed.

So much conversation and laughter her hearing aids can hardly keep up.

Not one hint of an exasperated sigh like me on most days.

Grammie only has gratitude and grace.

As I stand here in my own kitchen, a full year after her passing, I approach my life a little differently.

I spend a little more time watching the birds.

I spend a little more time reading my Bible, writing in my journal, sending letters.

I spend a few more Sundays at church.

And I wash my dishes with care and gratitude for the people in my home, for the delicious meals we share, for the love that surrounds me.

What a blessing it is to have a sink full of dishes.

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Kimberly Phyfe

Kimberly Phyfe is an adorably extroverted business owner living in Long Island, New York. She eats too much chocolate, reads like every day is the book fair, and is Mama Bear to a beautiful special needs child.

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