Was it coincidence or divine communication? E.A.B.
Ann Bradshaw’s book entitled True Miracles with Genealogy inspired me to write about an experience which I felt was more than mere coincidence. I believe my grandmother was communicating with me from the other side.
Mary Hannah (Clark) Cleary was my grandmother. She was born on May 24, 1897 in Northampton, Massachusetts to James and Mary Anne (Cashman) Clark. She grew up in an era when meals were made from ingredients from the cupboard and ice box. There were no frozen entrees, fast food or take-away meals in those days. The recipes for her creations were stored in her memory as a cup of this and pinch of that. Her cakes, pies and cookies rivaled the most divine confections I have tasted in my travels over the years.
When I was raising my own children I often thought about the visits to my grandmother’s house, where there was always something scrumptious baking in the oven and lovely scents wafting through the house. The small dark pantry behind the kitchen held all of sweets. There were cakes with creamy chocolate frosting and fruit pies with delicate crunchy crusts sitting atop the counter that I was not quite tall enough to reach. However, the singular memory that stands out in my mind was her Hermit cookies. If you have never tasted a Hermit, they are a simple, soft, spicy cookie with a molasses flavor. Unlike other cookies that are dropped by tablespoons onto a baking sheet, the batter for hermits is spread over the sheet in a thin layer, baked and then cut into bars while still warm. They were my favorite treat.
While raising my own children, I often wished I had the recipe for the cookies. Every holiday, special occasion, and especially on cold dark winter days, I lamented to my husband and children that I would give anything for a Hermit cookie. However, my grandmother passed in 1993 and I gave up hope that I would ever taste those special cookies again. How I regretted never asking for the recipe.
One warm spring evening, my husband and I drove to my grandmother’s home to visit my parents. They lived with her for many years and they opted to remain in the house after her death. Over a cup of tea and a conversation about spring cleaning, my mother casually mentioned that there were some paperback books stored in the hutch that belonged to Grandma. She suggested that I look them over and take what I wanted home. I took several books from the bottom cupboard and as I began perusing the first title, some very dry yellowed scraps that looked like newspaper fell out of the pages and drifted into my lap. Two of the scraps were blank. The third sent a chill through my body. It was the recipe for the Hermit cookies! I was both shocked and delighted. How could this be?
“She must have left that recipe there for you,” my mother quipped.
My grandmother was a strong minded, strong willed woman. Knowing her as I did, I thought it was entirely possible that she placed the recipe in the book for me to find.
I consider the book a very special gift from my grandmother. It is entitled Stillwatch by Mary Higgins Clark. I believe that the discovery of the recipe hidden between the pages of the book was my grandmother’s way of telling me that she was still watching over me.
What’s more, my grandmother and Mary Higgins Clark, both share the same given names and surnames. Their initials are identical. Both are M.H.C. and both share the name Mary Clark.
Was this a mere coincidence or divine communication?