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Oh Fudge

Oh Fudge

January 28, 2015


“I love your fudge recipe,” Josie said to me. “May I have it?”

“Sure, I’ve got the recipe in my head,” I replied. “Let’s sit down, and you can write it on that scrap of paper. It’s fast and easy.”

“Oh, just send it to me on an email,” she responded.

I spent the next several hours feeling really bad. “What’s up with my feelings about this fudge recipe?” I mused to myself when I went on a long walk later in the day. Writing a recipe with my computer really does make sense. Why am I feeling dismissed? Suddenly, I knew: This was not about chocolate; this was about a story.

I wanted to tell Josie that this fudge recipe came from dear Grandma Mary, who moved into my life when was I was 17 years old. She was my dad’s 4th of 5 wives, and I wanted Josie to know who Mary was for me.

She was the first person who told me that I didn’t have to finish eating everything on my plate. I cringed at a Sunday noon fried chicken dinner, when she looked at my dad and said, “Oh, Billy, she doesn’t have to eat that strawberry shortcake if she is full.” I put my head down and waited for the explosion. This time, none came, and I quickly excused myself and hurried to the safety of my basement bedroom. I marveled at Mary speaking the simple truth to the power in that house.

Mary brought elegance and beauty to my life, too. I loved to look at her as she rode her bike, as she worked about the house, as she sanded and finished furniture, which she rubbed with real walnuts. I could barely believe the meals: So many colors. I remember feeling that she brought a hint of safety to my life: Dare I hope?

I wanted Josie to know how much I loved Mary; how I day-dreamed about her growing old with me; how I wanted her navy blue polka-dot silk shirtwaist dress; how I wanted to look like Mary in that dress.

I wanted Josie to know that Mary flew to Philadelphia, when our first baby was born and helped us. In my wildest imagination I never thought I’d ever have anyone who would do that for me.

I wanted Josie to know that Mary left us far too soon, after a wild fire of cancer took her in a few months; I wanted to tell Josie how gorgeous Mary looked in her bright fuchsia blouse and her striking silver hair on the weekend after her diagnosis. I wanted to tell Josie how two months later when I flew to be with Mary, I didn’t recognize her at first, as cancer had consumed her: her passion, her fire, her gorgeous hair. I wanted Josie to know how my friend, MJ, had arranged a first class airplane ticket for me to come see Mary in the hospital, and how I drank too much wine on that flight on the way home, when I knew I would never see Mary again.

And, did I tell you that Mary read books? Lots of books. Every time she had a free moment. I had never seen anything like this, and I was intrigued. As a senior in high school, I read, but only what was assigned–it had never occurred to me to read for pleasure. Suddenly today, decades after Mary died, it dawned on me that I may have received, not only the fudge recipe, but also my love of books from Mary.

I wanted to share that fudge recipe so Josie would know me. Stories are like a super highway that run right into our hearts. Here is the fudge recipe:


Grandma Mary’s Fudge Recipe


Place three 6 oz. pkgs. dark chocolate chips

1/4 lb. butter

2 c. chopped nuts

3 T. vanilla in a large mixing bowl.


Place 4 ½ c. sugar and

One tall can evaporated milk in a large saucepan.

Bring to a boil and boil 8 minutes.

(use low to medium heat and stir ever-so reluctantly)


Pour boiling hot milk/sugar mixed over chocolate mixture in that large mixing bowl. Stir a bit until smooth. Pour onto 9X13 buttered cookie sheet.


  • Debra Schneider

    Thank you for this wonderful story. I feel like I can really see Mary and at the same time, regret not knowing her, and at the same time, miss her loss right beside you.

  • Donna Durant

    Oh, Joan! I always knew Mary had a very special place in your heart. Thanks for sharing this very personal story.

  • Carol Kortan

    Oh Joan–I remember Mary and you back in the early 60s–

    • Joan Wink

      Hi Carol, yes, you knew all about Mary and me. Thanks for staying in touch. I’m in Spearfish today and always wishing that you still lived here.

  • Sharon Whitehead-van Loben Sels

    What a beautiful memory!

  • Kathy K. Grow

    Oh, Joan, I recognize names in this story, but didn’t know Mary. I didn’t know so much.

    • Joan Wink

      Hi Kathy, yes, you were probably too young to know her, and she was very private. I believe she was living there, when you family lived there. No church for her.

  • Chris Roe

    Ha tenido una vida rica- cuando vas a poner estas historias en un libro para que todos disfruten?

  • Mary Kay Sandal

    I love it Joan! And I love how you connected the dots! Not only the polka dot dress either! Thank you forever!

  • Mary Kay Sandal

    and I like the sounds of the recipe too, thanks to Josie we have lots more pieces of the recipe of Joan’s life as well.

  • So lovely! I feel as if I know Mary. Thank you for sharing. And you really should put those stories in a book!

  • Cathy Yaap

    Oh my, I didn’t realize how special Grandma Mary was to you. Thank you for sharing ’cause now I love her.
    Grandma Mary”s Beans has been shared with my whole family. We all love it. We’ll have to use this one too.
    Most of all I love you!

    • Joan Wink

      Cathy, I forgot about sharing that yummy bean/hamburg recipe with you. I still make it, too. Love your right back.

  • Oh I loved reading that story, and loved hearing how inspirational she was to you. How did you get her fusge recipe?

  • Sonia Nieto

    Joan, I never met Mary before, but I met her today in your story. Beautiful! Thank you.

  • Sonia Nieto

    Joan, I never knew Mary before, but I met her today in your story. Beautiful! Thank you.

  • Diane Kindt

    Oh how I loved Mary being at your house, too. She was always smiling and making us feel good about life. I remember when she hosted a pre-prom gathering for us. It was so special. I’m so happy she was part of your “growing up” journey. Hugs BFF….

  • Sherilyn

    I use recipes of Mary’s too. Do you have the hamburger, bean recipe? If not I’ll share. I always get compliments when I make it. She and Betty were Moms bff’s.

  • Jane Bridenstine

    The Tuntland’s loved Mary! In 1978, living in WI, I had surgery. She sent a card or small gift to me everyday for over a week. She was wonderful! As you know, we still enjoy her hamburger bean recipe! So glad you had her in your life. However, remember, you were a gift to her as well!

    • Joan Wink

      Yes, I so remember Mary and all of the Tuntlands: Great friends. Thank you for those kind words, I had never thought of myself as a gift to her, too. Only visa versa. But, now that you mention it, I guess there is some truth to that also….

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