It’s still dark in the room. The morning sun is trying to sneak in, but the blinds stubbornly keep her out. Slowly I become aware of the sounds and smells of the house. I sit straight in my bed, searching for a sign that tells me she’s already awake. As silently as my feet will carry me I slide out of the bed and make my way to the hallway. At the top of the stairs I stop. The smell of fried bacon fills up the stairway. This can only mean one thing ... she’s awake! As quickly as I carefully can I climb down the stairs. The stairs in this house are dangerous for enthusiastic little feed in slippery socks. The steps are narrow and steep. While I open the door to the living room I now also notice the smell of fresh coffee. I don’t like coffee, I don’t get how grownups can drink it, but I love the smell. She’s standing with her back towards me. Busy at the stove creating yet another delicious breakfast for the whole family. “Good morning” I say overly enthusiastic. Happy that again I managed to wake up before everybody else and I have my grandma all to myself for just a little moment. No other grandchildren fighting for her attention, no parents telling me to calm down. Just me and her. And the bacon and coffee. And the drawings on the wall. It was always a bit of a ‘contest’ to have the most beautiful drawing on grandma’s wall. “You’re up early again” she says with a smile. “Yes I am” I answer proudly. Sometimes I even managed to wake up before she did. Then I would impatiently wait in the sofa, staring at her bedroom door, waiting for her to come out. She must have silently cursed sometimes that I didn’t leave her a moment to herself to get ready before being confronted with all that energy. But whether I caught her by surprise or not, she always greeted me with a big smile. I keep a close eye on her while she puts another batch of bacon in the pan. Always two pans. One with crunchy baked bacon, and one with softer bacon. Something for everyone, because that’s how she is. Everybody happy.

Many years later I still cherish these little moments. The mornings in my grandma’s kitchen in their cottage in the Ardennes. Baking bacon, making coffee, mixing mayonnaise, cleaning lettuce, ... always busy. Only every once in a while I would catch her reading a book on the terrace. She would always greet me with “aaaaaah little Katrien”, even when I grew head and neck above her. Always again happy to see me.

Today a mother of mothers passed away. My dad’s mom. A beautiful little great woman. Smart, funny, stubborn and persistent. Her always genuinely warm love will be missed.