The phone rang at 6 am on Monday, June 9; I had been expecting the call. My grandmother, Nini, had died at 4 am at the age of 94. Those of you who know me, or have some familiarity with House on the Hill, will know that the Springerle recipe I share is called “Nini’s Perfection Springerle”. And, yes, this is the same Nini, short for Venita Patterson, who shared her holiday baking traditions with me. When she stopped baking Springerle and I took over for my family, none of us had any idea that her baking influence would have such an impact on my life and its direction. She was so proud of me and so delighted that I was sharing her recipe.
What you don’t know is that Nini was the most loving and caring grandmother to me. To appreciate her care, you must understand that she was my step-grandmother; in explanation she was married briefly to my grandfather and became the primary parent of my father and his brother. She continued her care of the two brothers after her divorce from my grandfather and was my father’s major mother figure always. And so she chose us, my father, then his wife, my mother, and then me and my two brothers. I had no concept of this as a child, but only thought of her as my grandmother. Not until many years later did I ponder and wonder at the gift of being chosen. There was no legal obligation, no moral imperative, nor social accountability requiring her to continue to nurture and cherish us. And yet she did. She loved us and we loved her in return.
My passion for Springerle was born out of the affection I have for Nini. How could I not love a cookie shared by a doting and favorite grandmother? Her heart was so much bigger than her 4 foot 10 inch body and I received so much more from her than a cookie legacy.
How fortunate and wondrous it is to be the beneficiary of unconditional love.
Rest in Peace, Nini.
With grateful love,