This post is not about cancer. This is a classic Cult of Perfect Motherhood deprogramming post. It’s about my grandmother, who happened to have breast cancer, but that’s not what this story is about. It’s about peaches. Canned peaches, to be specific.
Recently, I tweeted while having a blood transfusion that I had canned peaches with my hospital food brunch, and that they reminded me of my paternal grandmother, and then I thought, I should tell you all this story because it explains a lot about the sense of humor I’ve inherited from my family. And it also gives us a lesson that will help us all do a little deprogramming.
So, my grandmother was your typical 1950’s style housewife living in a small town in Oregon, and every year, she’d can her own peaches. She’d go get a bushel of them from the local growers, and do all the work that’s involved in canning peaches. Which is a lot of work, but since my grandfather loved them, she made them.
Then one year, my grandmother missed the peach harvest. You know, because she was busy raising four kids. So, she went down to the local grocery store and bought canned peaches, you know, like, the cheap store brand ones. And she brought them home, and she hid them in the cellar. And anytime my grandfather said, “Honey, how about some peaches with dinner” she’d say “Sure thing, I’ll go get them from the cellar.”
Then she’d go down to the cellar, open a can of peaches, dump them in a mason jar, screw the lid on, and bring them upstairs and say “Honey, can you open the lid for me, it’s so tight.” And my grandfather would open the jar, and they’d eat the peaches, and my grandfather would say, “Sweetheart, nobody cans peaches like you do, these are the best peaches ever.”
So, now my grandmother knew that her husband couldn’t tell the difference between her peaches and the cheap store brand canned peaches. So she was like “The fuck I’m gonna do all that work anymore.” (Except, she NEVER would have sworn, but you get the idea.) But, she also wasn’t going to tell my grandfather she wasn’t doing all this work and lose all the compliments about the peaches. So she just bought the peaches at the store that come in a can because they were put there by a man in a factory downtown. And she kept putting them in mason jars and fooling my grandfather. For, like, 30 years.
The only person who knew this was going on was my aunt, who was sworn to secrecy. My grandmother made my aunt promise not to tell anyone until she was dead. So, my grandmother passes away in her 80’s (not from breast cancer, from regular old age stuff) and like five minutes later, my aunt’s like “Dad, there’s something you need to know about your wife.” And she tells him about the peaches, and he thinks it’s the FUNNIEST THING EVER. Literally the next time I saw him, he was like, “OMG I have the best story about your grandmother.” (Except he didn’t say OMG, but you get the idea.)
When my grandfather died, my local BFF left a can of peaches on my doorstep, which made me smile. And every time I eat canned peaches, I think of my grandmother, and what a sassy, awesome woman she was. And I think, “What peaches thing am I doing because I think it matters to my family, but really they don’t give a shit?” What peaches thing are YOU doing right now?