Candy Dish Haibun

Some people can’t believe in themselves until someone else believes in them first.
— Good Will Hunting

Bluebells and snowdrops at foot of tree

My grandmother had a small two-bedroom apartment on the second floor of a building in Youngstown, Ohio. My parents would drop me off for a visit, and Grandma Myers and I would spend several days, just the two of us. We would visit Mill Creek Park and walk through the extensive flower gardens.

Each visit, I would perch on one of her two couches, and look through old loose photographs, older generations of Shumakers and Myers intermingling with newer ones in the disorganized drawer of her breakfront. She would sit beside me, naming people, so that I learned my family’s faces without ever meeting most of them. After several years, I knew who they all were myself. I loved looking through those photographs, most of them black and white, seeing my mother as she grew up.

On Grandma’s coffee table was a candy dish, full of colorful, hard candies. Some were in clear wrappers and some were wrapped to resemble strawberries. I would eye her candy dish, but she never invited me to have one. One day, when we were talking about going to visit her sister, she noticed me eying her leaf-shaped candy dish.

“I always keep candy here,” she said, smelling sweetly of perfume and talcum powder, wearing a belted dress. “I told your mother that the candy was for guests, and she never touched a single piece. I was very proud of her for resisting the candy.” My grandmother fixed her hazel eyes on me, behind their cat shaped glasses. She looked at me a while in silence, to see if I understood what she was saying.

I thought over her words. She was not inviting me to eat the candy. Rather, she was suggesting I should not eat any of it at all. I thought this was a bit cruel, and I was sad at first. I realized that my not eating the candy was very important to her, and so I did not eat one piece. We dropped the subject, and I never asked her for any.

When my grandmother’s niece came for a visit, she offered her and her daughter Becky a piece of candy. Becky was near my age, and she happily unwrapped one and popped it in her mouth. I was jealous for few seconds. But then I was proud. I realized that I was not a guest in Grandma’s house. I was family; I belonged.

After a while, I hardly noticed the candy dish, and I did not feel tempted by it. Her eyes gleamed with approval in the evenings, when she would look at it, and notice it was still full.

Looking back, over the long years, I realize she taught me willpower. I would not have believed I could be in the room with candy and not eat a single bit. My stepmother used to hide snickers bars, not trusting any of us, but I knew from the clink of the good flatware that she had hidden them in the dining room buffet. My grandmother left candy out in plain sight, and there it stayed. She believed in me, and I didn’t want to disappoint her. I still look at that hard candy in stores, knowing it’s not for me. I can live without it.

old apple tree
wide branches slow the wind
bulbs bloom above roots

Copyright 2014 Brenda Davis Harsham

Inspired by the Haibun Thinking, Quote Week.

51 thoughts on “Candy Dish Haibun

  1. Interesting Grandmother! 😉 Willpower not to do certain things is something a lot of people struggle with, especially when it comes to sugary foods! It takes a very wise person to convey that to a child without them feeling like they are under hard and fast rules, which often doesn’t work anyway! It’s interesting that she didn’t directly tell you ‘not’ to touch it. That’s probably the key to success – she left you feeling you still had free will, that’s very important. Thanks for sharing that intriguing story – very worthwhile remembering! 🙂

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  2. What lovely memories and you were so lucky to have such a fascinating grandmother. Interesting way to teach will-power and the value of being trustworthy. Fascinating haibun!

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  3. Wow Brenda! What a powerful story – what a fantastic Grandmother! I lived so far away from my Grandparents (in another country) that I never had time alone with them. I think my maternal Grandmother would have been much like yours if she had ever had the chance. Such a shame for us, such luck for you. Marie

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    • I was lucky that my parents were willing to put a lot of effort into letting me stay with her. She was five hours away by car. I think she appreciated it, too, and never said a cross word about them. I’m sure your grandparents thought about you a lot, and probably treasured letters, if you parents wrote them. 🙂 Thanks for commenting. Warmly, Brenda

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  4. This is a lovely story of your grandmother and your relationship with her. I remember how my grandmother managed to spend time with me and made me feel like I was the most important person in the world. The wonderful thing is that even though she had ten grandchildren, we later discovered, that each one of us felt the same way when we were with Grandma. I have a lovely role model for a grandmother now that the time has come for me. 🙂 Thanks for sharing this memory with us.

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    • My gran was great at staying in touch. She regularly wrote all her grandkids, long newsy letter about everyone in the family, and it gave us a sense of connection even though we never saw each other. She left a big hole in the family. That’s a great story of your grandmother. She must have been a special lady!!

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  5. Lovely photo and recollection. It is lovely to have those special memories of your grandmother. My grandfather liked mints and always offered them to me. I didn’t like mints at all so for a while I took them out of politeness, until I worked out that it was okay to say I didn’t like them.

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  6. I love this story Brenda!! 🙂 What a good little girl you were! 🙂 And I like your granny 🙂 My granny loaded us with chocolates all the time! Hihi!! She loved that 🙂 When I was little and I went to the grocery store with my mother I used to eye candy as well, I was too polite to ask my mother for some, but my mother used to follow my gaze and then she would ask me if I wanted any candy, and I would whisper: Yes please, if I may. 🙂 I am still like that when we go out shopping, my mother will have to offer to buy something for me first, I will never ask. I don’t know how I got to be like that, I have just always been I think 🙂 Hihi, your post made me think of all these things. They are nice thoughts, so thank you for that! 🙂 Oh, and I love the Haiku! Especially since it was about an apple tree! 🙂 My granny has an apple tree in her garden!! The poem is little Zen-like, and I love that! Oh now, you have made me create a poem about grannies, you always make me do that, create poems!! 🙂 🙂 🙂 Would you like to hear? Here it is:

    Granny’s Purse

    Roses Red
    Roses Pink
    Granny’s purse is very big
    Lipstick and blush
    A silver hairbrush
    Granny’s purse i fabulous!

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    • Oh, you are so creative! My gran had a solid beige leather purse, and a big leather wallet. And she had a powder compact, and she used to always check her lipstick and face powder after every meal. I remember the way she would wipe her mouth so carefully with the big linen napkins when we were in a restaurant. I’m glad I helped you remember you as a child. You sound sweet and adorable. I like the conversations we have, poetry and hugs exchanged. 🙂 Have a great Easter in Easter-free India. 🙂 Maybe you can color your breakfast eggs. 🙂 Hugs, Brenda

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      • Oh, your granny sounds like a real granny-granny!! 🙂 Hihi! I always love the way you tell stories and describe things! 🙂 You are a real story teller! (You should do that if you go to Ireland, participate in Story telling events, you would be magical!!)
        I will color my Easter eggs! 🙂 Oh, and if you have time, then I have published a fairy tale today, if you would like to read. I decided to publish it after talking to you!! Thank you for always inspiring me!!! Hugs Hugs Hugs!!

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        • I’m so glad you are going to color your eggs. We dyed ours, and it was fun. Made out like bandits at the egg hunt. LOL Way too much candy. They had a hunt for the two 5 year old girls — pink, pink and a little purple. Then a hunt for the young boys, then for the teens and then the adults. It was fun. 🙂

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  7. My grandfather had a candy dish he kept filled by his bed. He was dying of brown lung disease but we did not know it at the time. I brought him green pears and apples in trade for his mints. When he was sleeping I tried not to make any clinking noise as I lifted the lid and could never quite get it right. Each time I woke him, he was so sweet to me and soft-spoken that I would stay and chat with him. My grandmother told me once many years ago how Grandad enjoyed our time together. She couldn’t have given me any gift I could have loved more.

    It’s funny about your grandmother didn’t want you to eat any candy. I would have thought she was being a bit stingy, especially since you were her granddaughter. Funny how we think of those things. 🙂 Lovely story.

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    • That’s a lovely story about your granddad. I bet he listened for that clink, hoping to hear it. Pears and apples were a nice bonus.

      My grandmother was very thoughtful about some things. She taught me how to open a brand new book, to break the binding carefully so that the book binding would never break. I think of her whenever I open a new book.

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    • Thanks!! My dad and stepmom always facilitated my staying in touch with my mom’s mom, which I appreciate. She was my only living grandparent. Hugs, Brenda

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  8. Wow what a beautiful lesson and some thinking on your part! I love the unspoken message and also her glance of approval said volumes to you! My Gma always had fancy chairs with tiny little glass pieces! I knew to never touch them but to look only. I loved sitting in those special seats and appreciating beauty. I had forgotten that till I read this! What a wonderful story and post! 💗

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    • My grandmother had everyday china and special occasion china. She hand-washed china after every single meal. She always set out every dish that went with a place setting. Placemats, cloth napkins, all the silver wear. She had standards!

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      • Everything had to be perfect and I love that! It says a lot about her I think! Handwashing china is like a labor of love for something she cherished. Isn’t that such a lovely memory. I love those kind that make you feel all warm and fuzzy! 🙂

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    • Thanks! She was a great person, I miss her. 🙂 She used to always say, “Well now, let me see,” when I’d ask her a question. I can still hear her voice in my head.

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