Write about a loss: something (or someone) that was part of your life, and isn’t any more.
Today’s twist: Make today’s post the first in a three-post series.
The process of moving out of the house where my children were finally raised and launched did not happen all at once. I left for graduate school after my daughter (the youngest) graduated from high school. That was the first stage of moving. What we didn’t take to South Bend with us ended up in storage–with friends and relatives. My husband was a collector of sorts, and he was able to find storage homes for much of his stuff.
Not that I didn’t have stuff, I did. But after a few yard sales, I had scaled some stuff back. It was at that point in my life that I even thought I was going to “give up” quilting. Some lucky fabric lovers got deals on my fabric and my quilting books. We all know that quilting wasn’t lost forever at that point, so this post is about the loss of something else.
Somewhere in the process, however, I lost a black metal 3×5 file box–the extra long kind was nowhere to be found. It probably could hold at least 500 cards–not that it ever did, but the potential was there. If you haven’t noticed elsewhere, I really like index cards and their attendant paraphernalia. If you haven’t noticed, I’m better at hiding it than I realized.
As you might suspect, it wasn’t the loss of the file box itself that was terribly disappointing; such things can be easily replaced. But what was inside cannot be replaced. At least not in the form that held so much meaning. That card file was home to my collection of recipe cards. And while it’s true that I very rarely use recipe cards (or cookbooks anymore), that recipe file held something more precious than simple recipes–it held memories.
Let me give you a few examples:
- When my sister, Cindy, and I were in high school, we started doing some baking. And we had a few recipes that were pretty standard. A killer brownie recipe, no-bake cookies, never-fail cake, and maybe something else. (You might notice I have no trouble remember the items with chocolate as the featured ingredient.) We had a typewriter in our bedroom, and we decided that we needed to have these recipes typed up for easy access. So she typed them.
- My mother-in-law, Ann, was well known for her cooking. But two of my favorites were her home-made bread and her 1-2-3-4 cake. And yes, I can find those recipes in other places, I know. But at one point in time, she gave me those two recipes. They were written on sheets of white paper with blue lines from a writing tablet. The recipes continued on both sides of the page. They didn’t fit in the file box without folding, but I folded them both in quarters, and they fit just fine.
- My maternal grandmother made awesome date nut bread. Luckily, she also gave several of us the recipe on an actual recipe card with some little artistic thing in the upper left hand corner. I can almost see the handwriting and the little orange-colored thing in the corner, but not enough to make out what it was up there. And who can forget the most important part of the instructions: START WITH A COLD OVEN!
These three people are no longer part of my life, but the recipes in that file box were one of the ways I continued to feel connected to them after their deaths. Of course, I have other memories, and–in each of these three cases–I have something else from them.
- There are other stories from that recipe box. Marie, our long-time neighbor and friend, gave me her recipe for hamburger soup. She had made it for me a couple of times, once after I had surgery. I loved that soup. It is not something I would typically make, but her soup was magical. And even though, I made it from her recipe, it was never as good as hers.
When I thought about writing about the loss of my recipe file, I knew some of the stories I would include. I hadn’t originally planned to put Marie’s story here. But I’m so glad I did. Our 22 years as neighbors didn’t end there. Every summer that I’ve gone back to Michigan, I’ve always included a visit to Marie’s kitchen, just like the old days when I went across the alley to visit. Writing this post reminds me that it’s time to check in with Marie. It’s crazy, because I really do think of her often, but she rarely hears from me. I am surprised how a simple thing like a recipe file holds so much more than recipes. Apparently, the loss of the file itself is not as tragic as it sometime seems; after all, I still have these memories even without the actual file. I still have the memories of the friendships, the connections, and the laughter that come with the preparation and sharing of food.
As for the twist, I don’t know how this will fit into a serial post, but I’ll see how it goes when I get there.
This post if part of the WordPress Writing 101 Blogging Challenge: