Saturday's are usually for hanging out together. But I have found that if I sit around too long my anxiety gets the best of me, and I have to find something to do. I mean, there are thousands of things I should be doing. Like laundry, or mow the grass. The backyard looks like I'm growing a jungle instead of just normal grass. But Again its a million percent humidity and 97 degrees outside. I think I will stick to procrastinating inside a little longer. With my restlessness getting the best of me, I decided that if I was not going to mow the grass, and I really didn't want to do laundry, then that left cleaning the kitchen. Ugh! This is another task on my "I hate to do list" pretty much all house work falls into this category. Probably because I know that the instant it is clean, someone will come along and mess it all up again.
*Sigh* the joys of motherhood.
I decided that the best way to attack this dreaded task was with music. Usually when I finally bite the bullet and do housework I blast music from my speaker, only to have a child come downstairs and ruin it by turning on the TV. I figured that if I was going to tune out the world with my earbuds in, the least I could do, was to let people know. That way there would be less attitude from my teens when they tried and get my attention. Ya know, like what we parents try to do when we need our kids attention? But, we can't get their attention, because they have both earbuds in. Which really annoys me to no end, because now, I have to stop what I was doing, take my irritated sass up the stairs, and into their rooms to find out why for the love of God, they cannot respond to me?? Yeah. I would know NOTHING about this frustration.
So, back to the task at hand. Dishes. Grabbing the large towel that is by the sink I set it on the floor under the cabinet. No the towel is not to stand on. Its because every time I do the dishes water gets all over the floor. Why? because there is no lip on the counter and water goes trickling down the cabinet and onto the floor. I usually step in said water and (I am so graceful) proceed to slip and slide on the tile. Just another reason why I LOVE to do the dishes. (Note the sarcasm)
Now that everything is set, I turn on the hot water, open the dishwasher and start dish tetris. Picking up the bowl on top I proceed to scrub vigorously at the stain on the side of the bowl. As, I was scrubbing I thought to myself, why did I still have this bowl? That stain had been there the last time I tried to scrub it out. With a sigh I set it off to the side and picked up the steel colander instead. While rinsing it out my mind wandered to a conversation with my middle child about said item. My friend had gotten a new set of nesting colanders and asked me if I wanted the set she no longer needed. I said that yes, I would love them. Peter, (middle child) stood next to me during this conversation and asked me if I planned to get rid of the other set we had. At first I thought, of course I would. Then I thought, well... maybe..
When I first moved in with Pete, I didn't really have much in regards to kitchen ware. I had a set of dishes but that was really about it. He had a full kitchen, so we just used his. When we got married we got new everyday dishes, and china. Most people don't even use register for china anymore. Honestly I think we used the china twice. It was more for display. Not that we displayed it well. Most people put in a glass cabinet with tiny spotlights. We had a total of 5 place settings, but only displayed one, in a dark mahogany china cabinet. Granted the doors were glass, but with the wood being so dark, you couldn't really see it all that well.
Pete was way more domestic than me. In fact I was more domestically challenged. Pete was an engineer. Everything organized and in its place. Unlike me, I had a squirrel kitchen. A little of this, a little of that, and nothing went together. In his kitchen all of his mixing bowls came from Pampered Chef and they nested together for the most efficient use of space. He had everything. All the silverware, mixing utensils, glasses, knife block, ceramic dishes with matching glass lid for cooking and potlucks. And of course those ceramic baking dishes all nested as well. He even had a tiny hot chocolate Wisk. Not only did he have all of the kitchenware one could possibly need, but he also loved to cook. In fact he once made this fabulous queso that he put in one of those ceramic dishes and took it to work for a company pitch in. He even put his name on the bottom of it, in permanent marker. That way wouldn't get lost. If it was me, I would have forgotten about the dish. Therefore leaving it in the breakroom fridge until things inside turned blue. But, luckily Pete wasn't a squirrel when it came to cooking. Sadly his name is no longer on the bottom of the baking dish. Apparently permanent marker isn't permanent. On a side note, those ceramic baking dishes are practically indestructible. *Sigh* They just don't make things like they used to. (insert wistful grandma voice here)
With my hands covered in dish soap I reached for the bowl with the stain and tried to scrub it again. After too much scrubbing I realized that stain wasn't going to come out, I rinsed it off and put it in the dishwasher. I looked at that bowl that was nested next to the one colander that I couldn't part with, and wondered why was it so hard to get rid of those things? They were scratched up, and some of the holes on the colander were cracked. I thought maybe it was because I could remember him cooking with them. I mulled it over some more as I continued to scrub another bowl with cheese stuck to it. Then it dawned on me (and no, not dawn soap) It was proof. I kept them because it was proof that he was here. That at one point in my life, he and I had a life together. But Why would my mind need proof?
I stopped what I was doing and raced upstairs to write down my epiphany. As I waited for my computer to turn on, I thought back to when I was deep in grief. So much of being a widow is grieving the loss. The loss of life. The loss of what could have been, the loss of man he was, the process of how he died. The struggle to get out of bed, the struggle to keep going. Everything is about trying to just move forward. Focus on going forward. Focus on how to make the best of it. There is nothing about the life and the living. Because in all actuality those memories are too hard to feel in those moments. Especially when I was drowning in so much sorrow that it choked me. But in this moment, 20 years later, those crazy, stained, cracked, scratched, broken in places, bowls, and baking dishes, are proof that he lived. Proof that he was more than just his death.
Pete taught me to cook. He taught me to wrap presents, he showed me the joy of family, of life. It wasn't the stuff. It was him. It was the life we created. We had joy, we had love, we had kids, we had laughter, we had fights over the dumbest stuff. We had sleepless nights, and worries about money, and bickering about those dang spots on the silverware. We had road trips, endless conversations, we had tears and misunderstandings. So often I have wondered if it really happened? For many, many, years I have wanted so badly for those happier memories back. The memories that trauma took due to self preservation. And in these moments some of them came forward. I remembered a piece of our life, and not just from a picture and a foggy memory, or half a story that someone once told me. A piece that I didn't know I needed until that moment. Those housewares were a part of him and he was a part of me. Most of my life up until that time with him, had been spent feeling like I didn't belong anywhere. But with him, I belonged. Just like those bowls that nested together.
Technically I could give away those old bowls and get new ones, since I now have the memories. But for me, it wouldn't be the same. It wouldn't taste the same. I had to work through a lot of bad recipes to find the good ones. The recipes that were long forgotten. Ingredients went into those bowls but joy and love came out of them. This reminds me of one of Pete's favorite songs that I had forgotten about until just this moment. Its a song by Harry Connick Jr. called Recipe for love. I remember the first time I heard that song. We were cooking dinner in his tiny kitchen of his apartment. He sang along with the words and danced around like a goofball. He was always doing stuff like that.. Maybe that's why I like to sing when I cook.
I went into this task hating it. But, I came out of it with a new perspective. Which is just like grieving. I hated it. But I became stronger because of it. I didn't know that part of my recipe for life would include such tragedy. However that made the recipe so much sweeter when I learned what it meant to find joy again. I may not ever be a domestic goddess but I do know that sometimes it takes the right ingredients for the recipe to come together.