stolen kitchen heritage
When we lost my Mamaw, exactly ten years ago, I went first thing to her kitchen, pulled her skillet from the stove, wrapped it in a dish towel, and walked it straight to my borrowed car. I stole it.
I didn’t know how to drive a stick, but that’s what I did all the way from Northwest Arkansas to West Tennessee to be with her in her final days. I would crank up that poor thing and jerk-stall every 20 yards from here to there. My whole body ached from the drive. Then I sat with her for 2 weeks praying that she would go on to be with Jesus. I pushed the buttons I thought would send her farthest from hurt.
She morphined right into heaven, saw angels on going, waited until we were all there – one of those days I thought I might have seen the spirit veil flutter a bit. It almost became translucent.
Stolen, or meant for me, I took that skillet and imagined 2000 years from now, someone might find it at the bottom of a lake. They might take samples and find traces of lard and cornmeal. They’d find traces of her, traces of me.
Last night, Mamaw, I made some. I did your dance: sink, step, step, bowl, spoon, table, whip, step, step, skillet, pour, scrape, pour, oven. I learned it from you. I slam things like you. My hands are bony like you, strong.
I’ve been in your kitchen, early dark morning, red-eye gravy, you clanging out the eggs. I sat on the stool. I’ve been in your kitchen, brothers looking hornet-mad, stomping through in work boots. It’s not all love. A kitchen never is.
Mine is little, too, here. Here, too, I hum the hymns, and I ignore more than I listen or try to remember. It’s not my favorite place, but it’s where I have you, our skillet, and that’s where I keep home swirling. Thanks for all the years you cooked into that iron. I eat from you still.