47: Snapping Beans

47: Snapping Beans

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Amazing Mom

Snapping Beans

Grandmothers always have time to talk and make you feel special.

~Catherine Pulsifer

I remember sitting at a big wooden table as Elvis Presley played from a small cassette player on the kitchen counter. It was late summer, and the air was heavy. Somewhere, a box fan was blowing from a windowsill, bringing in more of that heavy, warm air. Yet, there she was, not a care in the world, humming along to the music and gathering the items she was about to bring to that big wooden table.

I couldn’t have been more than six years old at the time. On most days, I could be found running wild through her rosebushes, digging in the dirt to make mud pies, or waiting patiently for the ice-cream truck to pass by her house. But not that day. That day, I got to sit beside my grandma and snap beans.

There was a rhythm to snapping those green beans. First, she grabbed one from the rolled-up grocery sack, snapped off both ends, discarded them, and then snapped the remaining bean into three pieces. She was able to snap ten beans to my measly three. Looking back, she could have finished snapping beans for the entire week in less than a half-hour if she had done it herself. However, she sat there for sometimes an hour or longer, letting me snap them with her. Being that young, our conversations while snapping revolved around trivial things like what I found on my latest treasure hunt or how I got my skinned knee.

As I got older, I anticipated the days when Grandma would pick the green beans from the garden. The snapping never changed, but the conversations did. I learned about the hardships she had endured while growing up in Kentucky. I learned about how she met my grandfather and knew he was “the one.” I learned how to tell when the soil was fertile enough for planting beans and what to do if a late Indiana frost threatened the seeds. We could snap a pile of beans in record time, but we sat talking for hours after the last bean had been snapped.

I valued the time I had my grandma to myself. At that point in time, I had fifteen or so cousins who enjoyed their time with her as well. So when I could steal her for myself, I always would. She had the ability to calm all my fears, ease my anxieties, and lift me up when I felt defeated.

At twenty years old, I still found myself driving across town to sit at that wooden table, snap beans, and swap stories with my grandma. Only now, my pile would get snapped quickly, and hers would take longer to snap. But just as she was patient with me, I sat there happily for hours as she snapped and talked. It was never really about the beans, even though they were absolutely delicious. It was about the time spent with this beautiful, kind, gentle woman whom I was so fortunate to have in my life.

I knew my days at the table with her were not guaranteed. The cancer was slowly taking her strength, and a goodbye was on the horizon. In the end, we didn’t get to sit around a table and cover new chapters of her life story. However, I did get to hold her hand and tell her all about the wedding I was planning. I wanted her to know all the details: the colors, the flowers, and the music. I wanted her to know those things because she wouldn’t make it to my wedding the following year.

It’s been eight years since my grandma passed away. There’s a new table now. Only this time, it’s in my house. On any given day, you will find a little three-year-old girl with the most beautiful brown eyes sitting at that table, slowly snapping beans with me. She calls me Mommy. We talk about butterflies, cupcakes, and everything pink. And somewhere under the laughs and giggles and the sound of the beans snapping, you’ll hear an old box fan blowing from a distant windowsill, bringing in the heavy summer air. In those moments, I find my grandma once again.

~Natasha Basinger

You are currently enjoying a preview of this book.

Sign up here to get a Chicken Soup for the Soul story emailed to you every day for free!

Please note: Our premium story access has been discontinued (see more info).

view counter

More stories from our partners