Grandpa and the Blizzard of 1967

by Diane Sweeney on January 22, 2014

463234789309My plan was to come to my computer yesterday morning, look back at my last blogs (from weeks and weeks ago) and pick up where I left off. It’s been a long time since I seriously wrote for all of you. Way too long. Instead, I went to the kitchen and started one of the other things that brings me joy. Cooking. It’s a very snowy week here in PA and I justified my procrastination of writing new blogs and continuing writing of my book by the fact that I should: 

  • Have a couple of good belly-warming, hearty meals for us to eat for the next 24 hours – or longer if we get snowed in!
  • Be ready in case the electric goes out – at least we can warm these on the camp stove. (You’d think this was a major blizzard. We’ll be out and about tomorrow, I am sure!)
  • Have immediate gratification in the form of good smells
  • Make my husband happy that he won’t have to eat 3 day old chili

Writing can bring me similar pleasure as cooking, but only when I don’t ponder about it so much, which I’ve formed a habit of doing too much of lately. And when I ponder, I procrastinate, and when I procrastinate, I do not produce anything. Can you relate?

Which brings me to Grandpa and the Blizzard of 1967.

As I was preparing the pot roast for the slow cooker, it brought back memories of that blizzard and a very special memory of my maternal grandfather.

My parent’s had gone to Lancaster, PA that weekend with their group of neighborhood friends. Typically once a year or every other year, they all trekked away from our Queens, NY neighborhood for some special adult time in PA or upstate NY. I think all of the kids on Hempstead Avenue got to be with their grandparents for this ‘long’ weekend.

My grandparents were living in New Jersey at that time. We didn’t see them as often as we had when we were younger and they lived closer, so it was a treat when they came to watch me and my sisters. There was lots of singing with grandpa and his harmonica, watching Lawrence Welk (yes, and we liked it!) and doing things differently than when mom and dad were home. Thanks to the blizzard and the lack of preparation on the part of NYC Transit, it turned out to be a few nights longer than the original two nights that were planned.

My grandpa loved to cook. He loved to experiment and put together something from whatever he had in the kitchen. Rarely did we get to experience his preparations when we visited with them, as grandma always wanted to have everything ready for us to eat as soon as we arrived after our two hour drive. (Seriously, you would get out of the car and have a chicken cutlet in your mouth within about 1 minute!)

But when they stayed with us on these weekends, Grandpa would do some of the cooking. And just like I made today, that weekend he and I made a pot roast together to keep our bellies warm through the storm. 

It was a small moment in the great scheme of life, but one that has stayed with me for 47 years. I remember him emptying my mother’s spice cabinet and telling me to, “Sprinkle this, that , and  – oh yes – that too! Flavor, flavor – you want to make it taste good!” I can still hear him say with his European accent, “You don’t need a recipe, you just need to know what tastes good and what people will like.” 

I think about that moment time every time I open the spice cabinet when I make a pot roast. I don’t use quite as much rosemary and thyme as he liked too, but I do go through my cabinet, shake this or that into the pot, and make sure there is plenty of flavor.

Today when I thought of that day, I could actually feel grandpa beside me. Encouraging me to not worry about the recipe, but to just make what people will like and enjoy. Something full of taste and flavor.

And in that moment, I realized I don’t have to worry about what I am going to write, I just have to write stories that people will like, that have flavor, and that will keep your hearts warm through any day or personal storm. 

Kind of like most of us should do on a daily basis. Less worry, more living!

So next week I’ll be back to writing my blogs, finishing my book and helping you Get Focused on Living and Living Your Life with Purpose! 

Thanks Grandpa for being with me and encouraging me yesterday! The snow is pretty, the house is warm and full of good smells, and I am back on track again remembering all you taught me! 

Is there someone in your life (past or present) who helps you to see life differently? Share with all of us on Facebook!  

To your best,


P.S. Going to try to find a picture of Grandpa, but since they are not digital and I have to go through boxes of pictures, decided to post this and then go through pictures later. No more procrastinating! I promise to share one soon!              

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