This episode of StoryCorps originally aired in 2015.
Chloe Longfellow, 32, remembers her close relationship with her grandmother, Doris Louise Rolison, who taught her to cook in a kitchen that also served as a classroom for Rolison's life lessons.
"It's really surprising the amount of life lessons you can learn in a kitchen if you have the right teacher," Longfellow said.
Audio produced for Morning Edition by Jasmyn Belcher Morris.
StoryCorps is a national nonprofit that gives people the chance to interview friends and loved ones about their lives. These conversations are archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, allowing participants to leave a legacy for future generations. Learn more, including how to interview someone in your life, at StoryCorps.org.
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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
It is Friday, which is when we hear from StoryCorps because some things in this world have not changed. And today, we have a favorite from the StoryCorps archives, a story about people who give us comfort when we need it most. It comes from Chloe Longfellow, who was just 3 when her father died. Afterwards, she grew close to her grandmother Doris. And at StoryCorps, she sat down to remember her.
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CHLOE LONGFELLOW: She had red hair. It was red hair out of a bottle, but it was still red hair. And she was a spitfire. If you messed with her and she didn't think it was right, she would tell you. But I do remember that she always smiled with her eyes, even when she was angry, even when she was tired. She was my very first best friend. It's really surprising the amount of life lessons you can learn in a kitchen if you have the right teacher.
She used to try to tell me about acceptance and how to be a good human being. She'd get all the ingredients for soup, and she'd look at it. And she'd go, now, see, honey. This is how the world works - some people are onions. Some people are potatoes. It would be a really boring soup if you just put potatoes in there, wouldn't it? But if you add leeks, if you had some bacon, then you make this wonderful thing. And all these different people come together to make this wonderful thing called our world.
And one time she had grown some beets. We brought them in, cleaned them off. And I got to move the page in the cookbook. And I had beet juice all over my hands, and I left a little tiny handprint on her cookbook. And I started to cry because I thought I had ruined it. That was grandma's favorite book. But she took a piece of beet, and she covered her hand, and she put her handprint on the other side and made our thumbs touch in the print and said, it's perfect now. If I really miss her, I just open the book and go back to that page. She touched it so often that it still smells like her, even all these years later.
She used to tell me that the sky was black velvet, and the stars were holes that been punched in the ceiling of heaven. And that was how our loved ones looked down at us and saw if we were doing wrong or if we were doing right or just checking on us every so often. So every time I look up at the sky, she's there.
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INSKEEP: Chloe Longfellow recalling her grandmother Doris Louise Rolison at StoryCorps. Her grandmother's story will be archived at the Library of Congress.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.