In Erickson's eight stages of development, the one that I would be at would be 'generativity vs. stagnation'. This means that I am at the stage of my life where I am looking back and wondering "Have I left anything of value? Has my life been meaningful?" At the time we studied this in Psychology class, I wondered a little about that but then I got busy, and you know, I just sort of forgot about the whole thing. One has precious little time to wax philosophic when you are up to your armpits in schoolwork, housework and work work.
This weekend, Dylan and Brittani came home. They wanted to meet William, having only seen pictures of him. Brittani also had a special request. She wanted me to teach her my old family recipe for making pepperoni rolls.
"Really?" I asked just a little surprised. She told me that the first time that Dylan brought her home, on the long jeep ride he said, "My mom is making pepperoni rolls for supper tomorrow night." And she said, "What's a pepperoni roll?" He said, "Oh, man, you just wait!"
Brittani sat with the family, and she partook of pepperoni rolls and she liked them too. She confessed that she had tried to make them at home, but that they didn't turn out. "My dough was not right," she said, and she asked me if she could have my dough recipe. She wanted to know if I would make pepperoni rolls with her. Of course, I said yes, and I was looking very forward to this weekend.
I've been making pepperoni rolls for all their lives practically. My then mother-in-law taught me to make them when they were just babies. She used store-bought frozen bread dough, but I always made my own dough. It did not take any longer to do that than it did to wait for the bread dough to thaw. Basically, all you do is make your dough, break off a knob of it, roll it flat, make a line of pepperoni in the center of it, add a handful of cheese, and layer another row of pepperoni just for good measure, and then wrap the ends up, and roll the sides over. It has been the comfort food of choice for my family. There's not too much that can go wrong in life that cannot be fixed with a piping hot, fresh from the oven pepperoni roll with spaghetti sauce for dipping.
So Brianna and Buddy came with little William. We had a nice family supper, stuffed pepper soup and fresh cornbread from the oven. The conversation flowed easily around the table, with lots of laughter and reminiscing and visiting. The conversation continued into the living room as we sat down to watch a movie together, passing William around so that everyone got there chance to savor his sweetness. There is something very moving about the heft of a small baby with their little jerks and their funny sleeping sounds, something very soul satisfying in the holding of them, their small size fitting perfectly in the crook of your arm. Since I am the worst grandmother ever, I was so caught up studying his perfect little face, and marveling at his tiny little fingers that I completely forgot to take pictures until Brianna and Buddy were ready to walk out the door. Then there was a flurry of activity as I raced around to get a few pictures, completely ashamed that they were, once again, an afterthought.
The next morning, I introduced Brittani to the mystery of the perfect dough. I confessed that my current 'ancient family recipe' was from the book that came with my KitchenAid mixer. I mixed up a double batch of dough and split it into two large balls. The two of us kneaded dough companionably talking and laughing together in my small kitchen. "Dylan talks a lot about your good home cooking," she said. I did not know this, but it made me glad. We handed the rolling pin back and forth and assembled pepperoni rolls. For good measure, we used the second batch of dough to make a dozen cinnamon rolls, and I showed her how to make the cinnamon glaze. She said, "This is easy," a little amazed, and I told her that it was.
And once again, we all sat down around the table to eat, dipping our piping hot pepperoni rolls into spaghetti sauce. Tim said contentedly, "I forgot how good these are straight from the oven." When Dylan bit in to a cinnamon roll, his eyes rolled. "You know how to make these, right?" and Brittani smiled across the table at me as she answered him. "Yes. I know how to make cinnamon rolls."
I had to work. They had to head back to Allentown. My perfect weekend ended.
When, I went to bed that night, I thought about it, wrapped up in the arms of my husband. Generativity. "Has my life been meaningful? Have I left anything of value?" This weekend, I told my daughter how much I loved her. This weekend, I dandled my grandson on my knee and I loved him dearly too. This weekend, I shared recipes with a lovely young woman who seems destined to become a part of this family, and I was able to tell her how glad I was that Dylan had found her. I spent a quiet evening with my own husband, making him his own batch of cinnamon rolls to replace the ones that I'd sent to Allentown. Tim sprawled in the kitchen as I made dough once again, and we talked, about our children. About this new grandbaby. About our growing family. About our new home, our impending move. We envisioned our family gathering together at the new house for holidays and for all the special times that the future would bring. About inviting Brittani's parents to come for a weekend so that we might meet them. We talked about Brianna and Buddy, and how little William can have his own playroom at the new house. I love those quiet moments with my husband. I love him.
This weekend, my life felt full and complete. It felt meaningful. Am I leaving anything of value? I look at the faces of my family. My children. My children in law. My grandson. Generativity? Yeah. I'm there, and let me tell you: It feels great.
Debby Hornburg lives in Scandia for the time being anyway. She can be reached at debby_ firstname.lastname@example.org Her blog can be found at lifesfunnylikethat.blogspot.com