A few weeks ago I wrote a post called Irish Soda Bread.
It was an atricle and recipe about my grandmother and her Irish Soda Bread. I shared a recipe that traveled all the way from County Cavan, Ireland and the woman who brought it here. I was baking and writing at the time, as a form of therapy. My grandmother had just had a stroke and I was waiting for her to open her eyes. It was comforting and therapeutic, at such an unsure time. My family was very touched by what I had written about my grandmother and loved my post.
One week from that post and that loaf of bread, my grandmother passed away. My very large and loving family was heartbroken but found peace knowing she lived a wonderful life and was finally with my grandfather again.
In the days leading up to her wake and funeral, my family asked me to do something very special. A way to honor my grandmother, and give everyone a taste of who she was. For her wake, we would make her Irish Soda Bread for the people who came to pay their respects to her and our family. My aunts and father asked me to do this for her, and to share what I had written on the blog with everyone. I was incredibly humbled that I was asked to do this, and that my post about the woman with the Irish eyes meant that much.
We decided to print her recipe for people to take home with them on little recipe cards, to have along side of the slices of bread. I would also blow up the blog post and picture for everyone to read, as they came into the wake.
With my husbands help, we printed and cut 300 recipe cards, and baked 8 loaves of bread. I loved the feeling I had baking that day. I felt like I was making my grandmother proud, as I mixed in all those raisins. The week before I baked in fear and sadness, not knowing what the future held for her. Now I was baking with a new purpose, to honor such an incredible woman. And as the house filled with the smell of that delicious bread I hummed the tune to “When Irish Eyes are Smiling”.
At the wake, we filled a large table with endless slices of bread and butter to spread. A wooden recipe box held all of the recipe cards. Next to it, hundreds of packets of Irish tea. To truly know my grandmother was to sit at her table with a cup of tea. We placed one of her beautiful teacups and tea towels next to it. And framed behind it was my blog post. It was a beautiful site, and made you feel like you were in the comfort of her home.
We had an incredible turn out that evening, the line was out the door with people who’s lives my grandmother had touched. Friends and family from all over came to pay their respects to her, and to celebrate the life she had. And as they made their way through the line, everyone stopped for a slice of bread and her recipe. By the end of the evening, both the bread and the cards were gone. Everyone was able to take a piece of my grandmother home with them.
I wanted to share this very personal story with you for many reasons. One being, I am extremely grateful for the opportunity I was given by my family. I feel truly blessed to be able to honor my grandmother in this way. I was able to take a very sad occasion and be able to share the joy my grandmother brought to me and so many others. Second being, that in the wake of great sadness you can find comfort in the way you honor your family. This little tribute brought smiles to everyone faces. I have always felt that food has a way of connecting people. It is a constant, it is there in good times and bad. It is a symbol of family, traditions, and most importantly love. And now by sharing my grandmother’s bread and recipe, her legacy will live on in your kitchens.