I find myself wondering when that pit in my stomach will disappear in those moments when I realize my grandmother is no longer just around the corner, putting on soup at her kitchen stove, deadheading the roses along the driveway, or balancing her checkbook in the back living room. There are days that life just happens and the fact that she is missing from it, seems to be part of what's normal. And then there are days where her absences brings a tightness to my throat and a welling of tears in my eyes. Or days that I forget she is gone and I catch myself thinking that we should head there for lunch, or stop by to tell her there are three ducklings taking up residence in our downstairs bathroom once again, because I know she'll laugh and be excited for the girls.
A few weekends ago, my cousins and I sat in my living room, enjoying a glass of wine together and reminiscing. I made the comment that while I was thankful her passing was quick, and not a long, drawn-out decline, it also made it difficult for me to grasp it all. It was too easy to remember her healthy, strong, and just fine. Wasn't it just last week that we were sitting together on the bench under the Sweet Gum tree? Or checking in with each other to see who needed cat food from the feed mill?
Last week, I sat in the kitchen with her big wooden recipe box in front of me. I was looking for a few family-favorite recipes. Of course, pouring over your grandmother's recipe box is not exactly the best thing to do to lift your spirits, but there was still a sweetness to it all. The greasy recipe cards typed up on a typewriter, the little slips of paper with her handwriting– recipes from Terry, NancyAnn, Paige….
Judging by the recipe box and the recipes inside, I can tell my grandmother has had this for a really long time. I'm guessing it's been the recipe box that's been sitting on her counter for as long as any can remember.
When I went home that afternoon, to file away my copied recipes, I remembered that I'd had it on my mind lately to organize my recipe box. I have a recipe box on top of my stove full of a some favorite recipes, as well as some I've never tried, some I've clipped from magazines. And I also have a stack of notecards scattered in a drawer. And a file folder of recipes stashed between the cookbooks on my shelf. And a few blowing around the top of my dresser upstairs.
I decided it's time to start my last recipe box. The one that will sit on my counter for as long as anyone can remember.
Several months ago, I bought myself a new recipe box with this in mind. But it has been sitting empty on my countertop. After going through my grandmother's recipe box, I realized how much of her is inside that box. Her handwriting. Her favorites. My favorites. Family favorites.
So I'm slowly cooking and baking my way through my disorganized, mismatched collection of recipes. When something is a standard, a classic in my kitchen, I move it to it's new, final home. Eventually, I hope to have my own recipe box full of recipes–tattered and splotched from years of use. That they'll become our family favorites. Passed down. Collected. Copied. Loved.