My grandmother used to make plum jelly every year. She hated the stuff. I asked her once why she made it when she disliked it so much. She thought about it for a few minutes before shrugging her shoulders and saying, "Well, SOMEBODY has to." Born in 1913, Grandma was raised through the height of the Great Depression. She came to value anything and everything, wasting nothing. She saved plastic containers, used pencils, and made sure that every free sample she found in her magazines was thoroughly used. The thought of all of those plums rotting in her backyard was anathema. The thought that anyone could have so much that they allowed good food to go to waste when others were starving was against her upbringing. So she made jelly and gave it away.
When she and Grandpa grew older, they sold the house on W Crocket and moved to a retirement community. There was no plum tree, and Grandma's obligation seemed to no longer exist. Little did I know that there was more to come. She commented a few times as she gazed out the back window at the unkempt hillside that it bothered her that all those blackberries were going to waste. That summer, I picked a couple of gallons and brought them to her house. She was thrilled, and we made blackberry jam. This time she kept a few, but gave all the others away to family and friends.
As the years passed, the operation grew. We added sugar-free jelly to our production for the diabetics we know. We went from an initial set of about 15 jars of jam to over 300 jars last year. I collect used jars, buy the sugar and pectin and we proceeded to make blackberry jam year after year. At least half of it went to the food bank. Some went to my daughter's school for auction, and the rest we gave away to family, friends, and coworkers. We called the operation "Gramma - Jamma", as it was still truly her jam.
More years passed, and Grandma began to take less and less of an active role in the Gramma-Jamma operation. My daughter joined our team, and began to help out more and more. When Grandma moved to assisted living, she stopped participating in the making of the jam, but continues to help with distribution. This year we converted about 16 gallons of blackberries into about 180 jars of jam. We continue to deliver to the food bank and school fundraisers, while giving out the rest.
We said our “Goodbyes” to Grandma Betty in August of 2015. She was 102 when she decided, “Enough is enough.” Anastasia, a teenager, continues to increase her role in the annual production of the jam. We now produce Gramma-Jamma in both original and sugar-free.
--Laura, with Great-Grandma Betty and daughter Anastasia