I miss my Grandma Jean’s biscuits. It’s been 27 years in this month of April since Jean Elizabeth Johnson Walker left this earth for her permanent baking place in Heaven. It’s been even longer since I feasted on her handcrafted goodies. I can remember the intoxicating, buttery scent of the flaky discs wafting through 701 Emerson Street as I entertained myself while lounging on the “pull out sofa” in the den watching Super Friends, The Great Grape Ape or Young World from the floor model TV. I can really remember just how special they were while proving to be just the right bite to pop in my mouth with a little dollop of fig preserves or Winn Dixie apple jelly while preparing for whatever big holiday that brought my family and me to Montgomery, Alabama from one hundred miles away Birmingham.
The biscuits weren’t especially big, but were in fact petite (which happens to be one of my favorite words). Now that I think of it, my Mama Jean was petite too, with beautiful, cottony, soft, long, thin hair that slightly moved as her distinct, caramel colored hands rolled the flour-laden concoction. The biscuits were likely tinier than your average breakfast bread because Mama Jean had to use the magical dough to feed the masses. Not only did she and my grandfather help rear their children, but their house, which was SUPER big in my eyes, was a temporary resting and nesting space for their grandchildren, nieces and nephews, siblings and anyone else in between.
One regret regarding those biscuits is that, at that age, I didn’t recognize just how unique those biscuits were. I always thought they would be there to be whatever I needed them to be when I needed (or wanted them). Much like my grandmother, those pieces of pastry perfection were simply in a league of their own. One other regret I now have as an adult is that I didn’t know that one day I would no longer be able to enjoy them or the beautiful woman behind their undeniable goodness, and I wouldn’t even have a recipe to try to duplicate that delightful baked dough. I have memories, so many precious memories tied into my Grandmama’s biscuits and the way they had an undeniable way of making life deliciously seem better. I know my Mama Jean knew how much she was loved and how much she meant to so many. I’m certain that she was aware of how beloved she was for her superb food, her planning of epic Easter productions, her gentle wisdom, her ability to be truly “present” (as in supportive of so many) and her smile that shone through even the fatigue that only a woman in school, who works, is a Pastor’s wife, a mother and a mother-figure to hundreds would understand. At times I really wish she would have left that biscuit recipe for us. I’m growing more certain though, that part of me is somewhat glad that a recipe doesn’t exist, to my knowledge, because even if we were to mirror it in taste, it would pale in comparison to the total package of the baker, her baked good and the ultimate recipe for life she left.
Thinking of my Grandmama’s biscuits reminded me of an important notion. My hope is that, through life, we are never void of showing our appreciation and admiration of those who’ve impacted us. From the helpful friend, to the loving spouse and the doting children, or the biscuit baking grandma, those who mean the most to us should always, always know it.