It may seem a bit premature, but we have started dividing up Mom’s things. She no longer needs a cabinet full of Tupperware containers, because she no longer lives in her house or cooks and puts away leftovers.
In one kitchen cabinet, the cast-iron pot sits like a lonely sentinel of Sunday dinners past. Every Sunday morning, Mom put a roast in that pot. It sizzled and brewed in its own juices while we learned about God at the worship service.
When we came home, Mom took the roast out. It was magically perfect every time. She had no clue that someday Alzheimer’s would rob her of the ability to cook.
When I thought of Mom’s cast-iron pot and how it might be destined for a garage sale, I asked my sister if I could have it. It’s amazing how a kitchen item evokes so many memories. Our family sitting around the table, discussing the sermon or the music from that Sunday’s worship time.
“Wasn’t that offertory by the organist amazing?”
“I loved that choir song at the end. Marilyn hit that last note perfectly. Was it a high C?”
“What exactly did the pastor mean about free will? I don’t get that.”
Dad would explain while Mom nodded in approval. We all added to the discussion, passed the roast beef around once more and made sure the gravy lasted for the final helping of potatoes and carrots. Cherry jello melted next to the hot veggies.
After dinner, we all helped clean up. Mom, my sister and I worked on the dishes and any leftovers, hiding them in those same Tupperware containers that Mom no longer needs. My brother and my dad pushed the chairs back under the table, then settled themselves in the living room with pieces of the Sunday paper. The sounds of a football game’s broadcast echoed throughout the house.
Back in my home, I lift the cast-iron pot to my face and try to smell the pot roast. But it has been many years since it held the meat from cattle my dad fed, then butchered so his family could eat.
The smell is gone, but the soul ties to memory live on. I slide the cast-iron pot into my own cabinet, wondering if I will use it – probably never put a pot roast in it as I rarely eat beef any more. Maybe I’ll try a chicken, season it with rosemary and lay tiny shallots around the perimeter.
Will my son remember our meals together with such fondness? Will he someday hold my pots and pans and treasure special meals? I doubt it. We have such different schedules, we eat together only once a week, our Sunday ritual that is usually take-out.
Is this cast-iron pot another remnant of a generation gone that spent quality and quantity time together? The soul of my mother’s preparations, of the farmhouse kitchen, cold winters and abundant harvests ̶ the joy of being family. I miss that piece of cultural history.
Mom’s cast-iron pot is now my treasure. Maybe I’ll take it out of the cabinet and place it where I can see it often, to remind me of the love of family and the importance of every day.
©2014 RJ Thesman – “The Unraveling of Reverend G” – http://amzn.to/11QATC1