Love & Loss: Living a Gluten-Free Lifestyle

Life happens, we forget that sometimes.

I find myself in a very reflective state today as I sit down to write this blog post, which also happens to be my 100th post for Blinded by the Bite! I’ve taken a few weeks off from writing as my grandmother passed away on January 6th.  I struggled with taking time off from the blog, felt guilty really, but also couldn’t figure out how to put finger to keyboard to construct a sentence, let alone a full blog post. Life happens, we forget that sometimes.  Life happened to do just that on January 6th.

That Sunday Downton Abbey was set to come on at 7pm here in Austin.  I was excited to be watching the premiere of Season 3 with my family, a rare opportunity we were all at home on a Sunday evening.  It was also a show my grandmother enjoyed listening to, after all it was the era in which she grew up (she graduated high school in 1935 -Senior picture below).  She couldn’t really see anymore due to her macular degeneration, but she could listen and if it was a really good day, and the light was just right, she could gaze just ever so at the television to catch a glimpse of the splendor and glory that is Downtown Abbey.

Downtown Abbey3

Downton Abbey – Photo courtesy of PBS

I decided to prepare hors d’oeuvres for dinner in lieu of our usual Sunday night dinner fare.  This was always something I enjoyed as a kid, as my grandmother used to make hors d’oeuvre’s for dinner.  She passed this tradition onto my mother and my mother to me.  I recruited my mother to help prepare dinner, as I wanted to go a bit over the top with the hors d’oeuvres with it being Season 3 Premiere of Downtown Abbey, as well as probably one of the last meals my grandmother would enjoy.  My grandmother had not been expected to live past Thanksgiving, so the fact she made it through Christmas and my birthday on New Year’s Eve, we were delighted with every moment we got to spend with her.

My Grandmother

Eleanor Fladung circa 1935

Now I know your reading this saying to yourself “how in gods name is she going to make fabulous gluten-free hors d’oeuvres?”  Well I did just that and they really were quite fabulous and I’m sharing them here with you to pass on a tradition my grandmother started.

Here is the hors d’oeuvre menu:

Downtown Abbey2

Sadly my grandmother didn’t get to enjoy any of the hors d’oeuvres.  My mom went in to go get my grandmother around 6:30 and she’d passed away.  My mom walked out of my grandmother’s room and asked my brother and I to come make sure she’s passed away.  It was a very tough moment.  I don’t think you can ever be prepared for when that time comes.  There is no book, no amount of therapy, no telling yourself it’s going to be fine, that prepares you for a loved one passing away.

I will be eternally grateful for this last year.  We made the decision to move my grandmother here to Austin, TX full time, as my mom and I didn’t want to put her into a retirement/hospice setting. It had been a fight for years to get her here and funny enough in her last days, she finally admitted she had hated living alone in Arizona.  We can’t gain those years back, but we gained more in this last year and helped ease my grandmother to the other side in her last days.  My dog Zeus laid directly under her bed, lining himself up with her body, protecting her from going anywhere but heaven – She was terrified of not going to heaven.  She was a pure and chaste woman, a devoted Catholic, a great mother and the best grandmother one could ever ask for.


My gram waiving hello as I took her pic during Thanksgiving

While my heart breaks with her absence, I will always have the summers I spent with her and my grandfather in Big Bear- fishing, hiking, and riding on the back of my grandfathers moped.  I will have the “drive-time love calls” on the way home from work, the long talks about her life, my life, her telling me to never stop traveling, writing and cooking.  I will have every New Year’s Eve we spent together celebrating my birthday with a Baskin Robbin’s Ice Cream Cake (pre-Celiac).  I will always have these memories and when it’s my time she will be waiting to greet me on the other side.  Until then, I love you grandma and will miss you all the days of my life.  Thank you for always taking time for me, for your encouragement and faith.

Gluten-Free hors d'oeuvres

Gluten-Free hors d’oeuvres

One last note:  That Sunday night my mom told me my Grandmother would have enjoyed the shit out of the  hors d’oeuvres I made.  I just had to laugh, as I could just picture her eating them going back for more, licking her fingers and smacking her lips in delight! She loved life and it showed in who she was and how she lived!


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