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The most memorable Paczki Day

It was Paczki Day back in 2001. I had been back in Detroit for about a year and a half and was still pretty angry about it. I couldn’t sleep and as the clock hit 5:30 a.m. I decided to head down to Hamtramck.

My mom grew up in Hamtramck and my grandparents lived there until the late 70s. I spent a lot of time there as a kid—going to the candy store with my grandpa, family dinners at their house, hearing the neighbors and my family speaking Polish, the bakeries and Clock Diner—are all embedded in my brain.

As an adult, I had spent very little time in the tiny city surrounded by Detroit. I left the area when I was 17 and had just returned. I hadn’t explored the bar scene in Hamtramck yet and in my mind it was the same little Polish community it was decades earlier.

It was still dark out as I pulled into Hamtramck at around 6:00 a.m. People were everywhere, standing in line at the bakeries and others had already started drinking. Mainly, it was a lot of happy, friendly people ready to party.

I just came to pick up some paczki and I was alone so I didn’t take part in the revelry that was going on around me. I purchased my dozen and headed to my grandma’s house. The plan was to surprise her in the morning with some Polish treats and quiet time with her granddaughter.

I knew she’d be awake. My grandma was a whirlwind of activity and started her day early in the morning. I’m sure the knock on the door and opening it to find me standing in front of her was a shock. Something must be wrong for her granddaughter to show up at her house at stupid o’clock in the morning!

I assured her everything was OK and showed her my pure white box of paczki, tied perfectly with bakery string. Her eyes lit up. Grandma had a major sweet tooth and she was always thinking about dessert. We sat down and enjoyed our Polish treats with coffee and a nice chat.

There wasn’t anything spectacular about that day. We didn’t solve the world’s problems. We just spent time together. On a whim, I decided to surprise her on a Polish “holiday.” That’s all.

A few months later, in May, my grandma had a massive stroke that left her paralyzed and unable to speak. She lived for two more years but it was difficult to communicate and I think she was pretty angry about her predicament.

The last real memories I have of her—the good ones—are from that day. Sitting in her kitchen, eating paczki. The most remarkable moments of our lives come unexpected. And they’re even better if they include powdered sugar on your face and custard dripping down your chin.

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Reader Comments (12)

Great post, Becks. Life is short, and it's indeed the little things that seem minor at the time that end up being the memories we cherish. Thanks for sharing.

March 8, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNick Nerbonne

Nice post. I have some regrets about loved ones that I did not spend enough time with when I had the chance. Thanks for the reminder that life is precious.

March 8, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSchmee

Thanks for sharing this beautiful, heartfelt story.

March 8, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterUrsula

"That's all." . . . And that's so very much, as you recognize.

Building block moments such as those create our memory palaces. I'm not surprised yours is strong and well-appointed. Thanks for letting us in, Becks

March 8, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAlan Stamm

Love this post. Thanks for sharing your memories! You prompted me to share my own and link to yours~

March 8, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterEmily

Thanks for sharing this story, Becks. Grandma's are SO special. It always amazes me how small moments like this add up to monumental memories to last a lifetime :)

March 8, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLaurenWeber84

Becks, this is a super sweet post, and my eyes are actually welling up with tears because my granny is currently in a coma and it hasn't been looking good the last few days, and shes miles away so I can't hug her. Shes the only grandparent I have ever known....

March 8, 2011 | Unregistered Commentermirauncut

Wow, this was just so moving, thanks for sharing. It is so true, it is often the little moments we take for granted that end up being so meaningful.

March 8, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJenR

Thanks to everyone for stopping by and your kind words.

Sending you a big hug! I'll keep you and your granny in my thoughts & prayers.

March 8, 2011 | Registered CommenterBecks Davis

It is with deep regret that I'm stuck in Austin and cannot go to my favorite Polish bakery. But my hips will thank me. They sell them here in the grocery...but they aren't comparable and I only go for the real thing.

It's nice you shared Paczki with your grandmother that year.

March 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterThe Mayor

If I would have known I could have sent some down to Austin, tons of Detroiters are about to invade your city for SXSW. Next year, right?

March 9, 2011 | Registered CommenterBecks Davis

That was amazing

July 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterT1theinfamous

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