This picture hung on the kitchen wall in my maternal grandparents' home and bore the subscription: "Give us this day, our daily bread." I haven't seen this picture since my Nana died twelve years ago this past July, but, seeing it again was like stepping back into my grandparents' home. I remembered how the picture hung above the buffet against the kitchen’s west wall, next to a photograph of Credence, a beloved German Shepherd who had died before I was born. And then I began to remember other things, and started to catalogue the items in my grandparents house: a bunch of ripe bananas on the kitchen counter, a box of Honeycombs in the cupboard, a plastic bottle of aquamarine Dawn on the sink, and, always, a stick of butter sweating on a dish, translucent, like a yellow ice cube. The kitchen smelled like pure sunshine. There was a cork board in the corner, where slender pins with colorful, bulbous heads tacked down curling Campbell’s soup labels and memos from the Relief Society. There was a box fan whirring in the front room, and the hall closet with a canister of dominoes and a waxy paper cup filled with seashells from a long-ago vacation to California. Nana taught my sisters and me how to hold the shells to our ears to hear the roar of the ocean.
There was the bathroom with the porcelain pink sink and watered houseplants draining in the tub. There was the spare bedroom where we girls played with the typewriter and hid between the wedding and bridesmaid dresses hanging in the closet. There was the bookshelf with the textured orange spines of Childcraft books, and the big, blue comforter speckled with white dots that, when spread out, covered nearly the whole of the living room floor, and then, just as quickly, was folded back up again, like some collapsible universe.
There was the garden, with peonies, ferns, snapdragons, bachelor buttons, iris, and lilacs. There was the narrow space between my grandparents' home and the small rental home beside it, a home that originally had been built in the days when polygamy was still practiced. There was the long gravel driveway, where Nana would scatter breadcrumbs to feed the birds.
There was the whir of the box fan and the weight of a domino in my hand and the satisfying clacking of the typewriter - evidence of a world that was mechanical and gritty, but also solid. And, of course, there was the picture of the man saying grace, and the subscription "Give us this day, our daily bread."
There were the stories, the ones Grandpa told about his childhood, when he worked on the railroad and caddied for F.O. Haymond. As an adult, Grandpa had worked at Stover's six days a week, hauling furniture, but as a young man, he had been the fastest runner west of the Mississippi. There were other stories, too, stories that I didn't learn until I was older. Stories about my Grandpa's Irish father, a handsome Mormon bishop, who had hung himself in the church during the Depression. Stories about my Nana, who had contracted spinal meningitis at fifteen and laid at death's door for a better part of a year before she recovered, and her father, who had died in a car crash when she herself was just a young mother.
Surely, my grandparents were acquainted with grief, and yet, there were stories of our Father in Heaven, and there were prayers offered to Him as we gathered at the kitchen table, "Give us this day, our daily bread," - a refrain at times insistent, at times resigned, but always uttered.
I looked at that picture in the bakery, but in my mind's eye, I was back in my maternal grandparents' home, standing beside my Nana, scattering bread crumbs for the birds across the gravel driveway.