How does one become emotionally attached to pots and pans? I asked myself that question as I burrowed into the cabinet under my kitchen counter. I had planned a special dinner for my family, and the only suitable skillet was buried somewhere in the pile.
The cookware in question had belonged to my great-aunt Ginny. She was the queen of the kitchen, of any kitchen. No matter where she was, her dominant culinary genes overrode anyone else’s as she took up a wooden spoon as her scepter and donned an apron as her royal raiment. Fruit and fowl surrendered to her reign and were transformed into delicious pies and fried chicken. Her meatballs were legendary, her manicotti sublime. Friends and family respected and relished her queendom. No one ever went hungry when she was around.
We were stunned when Aunt Ginny passed away. We had believed she would go on forever, perpetual motion personified. But she was gone, and we nieces and grand-nieces took on the sad duty of packing away her belongings. Aunt Ginny had lived alone since Uncle Herbert died, so her things were to be divided up among us, with the leftovers donated to her church.
We sadly filed into her kitchen. Each of us opened a cabinet or drawer, and soon we were chuckling at what we found. Her spices sat on a shelf in perfect rows, arranged alphabetically. I flushed with shame, thinking of my own helter-skelter cabinets where the olive oil cavorted with Tabasco and minced onion flirted with Mrs Dash. I was glad Aunt Ginny had never seen my cabinets.
My aunt pulled open a drawer and with a catch in her voice she said, “Look here.” We found a stack of neatly folded plastic bread bags and used aluminum foil, which she had washed and saved to be used again. She never wasted a thing.
My mother pointed to a pile of pots and pans she had pulled from a cabinet. “Those are yours. Aunt Ginny wanted you to have them. They’re Diamondware, and they cost a lot of money back when she got them.” I picked up a heavy lid and flicked it with my finger. It made a satisfying “bong”, and everyone smiled. I was a young mother at the time, and I was overwhelmed that she had entrusted me with something she had cherished so dearly.
And so I continued the excavation of my own cabinet. I found the skillet I was looking for, the one she had always used to fry chicken, and I dragged it out. I ran my hand across the lid and said, “Thanks, Aunt Ginny. I miss you.”