Before she died, my Nana wrote a memoir.
A true love labor, she spent months crafting her stories, working with a local writer to hone the tone of each memory. It was a work for end of life. For reflection. And for sharing of wisdom.
When she finished, she wanted it printed. A small run for friends and family.
She asked her daughter-in-law, my mother, if she could help find a printer for the job.
"I want a local shop" she insisted. "A small business owner who will work with me to make it just the way I want it."
A few days later they were in the car together, headed to a small owner-operated shop that had been around for a couple decades.
Hank, the owner, met them at the door. He looked to be about sixty, slight potbelly, and a brusque manner.
"I don't think this run is going to meet our minimum" he grunted. "You'll need to pay extra. How much money do you have for this project?"
And so it went for another 10 minutes as Nana told him what she imagined.
"So what do you think? Shall we go find someone else a bit more...helpful?" my mom asked Nana as they stood by the car in the parking lot, post meeting with Hank.
"Oh - Absolutely not!" exclaimed Nana."He may be gruff, but he has a twinkle in those blue eyes. All he needs is a little bit of my homemade marionberry jam and he'll warm right up."
A week later they returned, Nana bearing an offering of homemade marionberry jam and a straightforward tribute: “I brought you a little nothing to thank you for all the time you are giving us.”
Right away as Hank eyed the jar perched on the edge of his desk, you could see him loosen.
"You made this for me? Thank you.”
He paused, and then looked Nana in the eyes. “I have to confess I read your whole memoir. I don’t normally read the work that comes here to be printed, but I was drawn to yours. You remind me of my mother - strong, no-nonsense, honest and wise. And there’s the Irish humor too."
The two of them bantered off in a direction that was clearly their own. They recognized something of each in the other.
From that moment until the memoir was printed, Hank and Nana had a banter going. He was helpful, courteous, playful, just a tad gruff, and printed a beautiful memoir.
All he needed was a little homemade jam.
Big appreciation to my mom, Jinx Faulkner, for sharing this story with me and editing this piece.
Photo credit: Maura Koehler-Hanlon
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