Skip to content Skip to left sidebar Skip to right sidebar Skip to footer

Mamaw’s fork should be in a museum

“Mamaw’s fork should be in a museum, not the silverware drawer,” said my oldest son during his last visit home.
I’m not sure if this was so much his way of saying his grandmother used that fork to cook the best breakfast in the world, as it was a sad commentary on the condition of the faded and misshapen utensil. For as long as I can remember, I have watched Mama stir up biscuit dough, measure flour (three heaping forkfuls) to brown in the sausage drippings, and finally whip the boiling liquid into steaming southern style gravy – all with the same old fork.
Somewhere through the years I ceased to even see the tool my mother so skillfully used to prepare breakfast every Saturday and Sunday morning as we were growing up. The old fork with its tines worn and rounded by 60-odd years of gravy and biscuit making isn’t the only casualty of routine and time. The iron skillets seasoned with countless cakes of cornbread … the missing lid handle that my father replaced with a homemade wooden substitute … the pink Melmac plates stained with years of breakfasts, dinners and suppers … the beat-up bread pan burnt black by use – all in plain sight but somehow blended into the tapestry of everyday life to the point of invisibility.
A few weeks ago, Mama and Daddy moved in with us, and piece by piece, their pots and pans, dishes and silverware have made their way into our cabinets and onto our kitchen table. And in the same manner, their lives and ours have meshed. Things and people that were a part of my childhood are once again in my home and everyday life.
I have taken a fresh look at my surroundings and have discovered anew just how precious they are. No longer are pink plates and wooden handles dull and humdrum. The black bread pan has a character all its own and newfangled stainless steel cookware cannot hold a light to Mama’s cast iron skillets. It is with a great deal of satisfaction that I place the old fork in the silverware tray with my own. It could never belong in a museum, sitting clean and useless on a shelf. It was made for ordinary life in an ordinary kitchen making gravy and biscuits for an ordinary family. Our family.
And I know, too, that in spite of my longing to protect Mama and Daddy much like you would a priceless antique, that won’t make them happy. My desire to wait on them hand and foot and treat them like china dolls will only serve to satisfy me. Like that old fork, they must continue to feel useful and needed.
For more reasons than I can count, I think I’ll ask Mama to help me make biscuits and gravy for breakfast tomorrow.