A generation goes, and a generation comes. (Ecclesiastes 1:4)
For decades, my maternal grandmother made dozens of crescent rolls every week. Gran’s rolls. She liked to have them on hand in case a neighbor or church member dropped by or needed a visit. She remembered birthdays and anniversaries, when children and grandchildren were born, and when parents and grandparents died. She never came empty-handed.
Growing up, she would tell me I could eat my age in rolls — one for each year! I could hardly wait as she mixed the dough by hand. She didn’t mind that I dumped too much flour across the kitchen table or that I’d insist on wielding her massive rolling pin. I’d quickly grow tired and pull up a chair to watch on my knees as she finished rolling out the dough. She’d cut the flat circle into skinny triangles and let me paint melted butter across the surface. Then the magic — with an expert flick of her wrists, she’d whirl the dough in the air so that it looped around itself. A perfect crescent every single time.
During her last years, Gran had trouble recognizing and remembering family members, including Mom and me. She called me by the name of her oldest son (my uncle) or her youngest brother, my great uncle who had died when I was still a boy. I tried to be as patient with her as she’d been with me. For Gran, time had whirled and folded back on itself.
On the most recent anniversary of her death, Mom brought Gran’s rolls over after church. Like her mother, she doesn’t come empty-handed. And I told my kids that they could eat their age in rolls. I wasn’t really counting, but I’m pretty sure our youngest, age 3, broke the rule in the effort to match her older brothers. All of them ate just like I did as a child, first biting into the middle of the crispy browned top, then unwrapping that soft, buttery goodness.
Watching my kids reach for yet another Gran’s roll, their eyes glittering, their mouths still full, I joked that they must think they’re in heaven.
“Just wait ’til we all make them together,” Mom laughed.
ANDREW TAYLOR-TROUTMAN is the pastor of Chapel in the Pines Presbyterian Church in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and the author of “Hope Matters: Churchless Sermons in the Time of the Coronavirus.” He and his wife, who is also a pastor, are rattled and blessed by parenting three young children.