Robbin Bruce: The little pot on Momma's stove
A couple years ago, while going through Mommaís stuff after she had passed away, I picked up a beat up pot, and I asked my brothers if either of them wanted it. It was what now a days they would call a two-quart sauce pan but to us it was just a pot. It has a metal handle with a hole in the end, and has been beaten and banged so much that the bottom is almost rounded. The bottom half is stained brown, the top isnít even round anymore; a couple of the sides have a kind of point to it that made pouring easy. As we were getting ready to bag up the stuff nobody wanted I couldnít take my eyes off it, if I threw it away, it would be like throwing away a part of my childhood. All my life that pot had sat on her stove, how could I think it wasnít worth keeping?
Every meal at her house that pot had a part in. If she was cooking breakfast, I can see her stirring oatmeal in it. Dinner time would roll around, and somebody would want some soup, I didnít eat soup back then, and she would throw a can of chicken noodle soup in it. Then supper would come and tea would be steeping tea in it. After so many years of tea boiling in it, it couldnít help but be a little brown at the bottom.
Once I remember Daddy was making us kids some hot chocolate, back before we had that microwave kind, and he scalded the milk. Well by the time he got the pot cooled off, we kind of figured that was the end of that little pot, but I guess thatís what Brillo pads are for.
The one thing I havenít figured out was what happened to the bottom of it. You know how pots are always flat on the bottom, well this one has more bumps and dents in it than you can count. But somehow if you turn it just right it sits just as flat as a brand new one. Maybe that gave it some kind of magical powers; because since the day Mom passed I havenít had a glass of tea as good as hers. It was something about her tea: just sweet enough with a strong tea taste. I remember when we first got married and Mel would make tea she would always tell Mel she used too much sugar. But Melís was never as sweet as hers, no matter how much she used. Go figure?
While we were going through her pots and pans I also brought home another one, the closest I can describe it I guess is a ten quart pot. How many days have I seen it full of butter beans, or corn on the cob, I wouldnít dare to count. It was just as beat up as the little one, but somehow it never let the flavor of the food it cooked escape. The inside is just as beat up as the outside, from little boys growing in to men, trying to get that last butter bean, or that last chunk of beef stew. I have no memory of anything coming out of that pot that wouldnít make your mouth water. Paula Deen probably has one just like it, but she pours the stuff she cooks in one of those fancy ones, just for show on TV.
Then there were her pizza pans, I think we all took a couple of those. Many years ago a German lady taught her how to cook it, long before there were Pizza Huts or Dominoís. Pizza is a Bruce family tradition; we would have fought you for a piece of hers. As the family grew so did her collection of pans.
She would load them up, hamburger, pepperoni, bell pepper, onions, cheese, Iím going to be hungry if I donít quit. But as time passed, and the family got bigger she pretty well just cut it back to special occasions. Like birthdays or if she hadnít gotten us all together for a while, you know how life and work are. But when she called, we came a-running. It would take her a good couple hours to get it all together, and there were so many of us we almost had to eat in shifts. But we would be standing there waiting, it was so hot it would almost scald you, but we would be eyeing the next pan going in the stove.
But there was something special about how she did it, but when she left us we thought the secret had gone with her. Each of our wives cook good pizza, but itís just not Mommaís, but a couple of weeks ago Jobee stumbled across it, and he passed it to me, but Iím sworn to secrecy, so donít ask!
Each of us at one time or another will have to do like me and my brothers, make the decisions, of what to keep, and what will just clutter our homes when our parents pass. Just donít get into a too big of a hurry.
You might be throwing away a memory, you never want to forget.
You can reach Robbin by e-mail at email@example.com.
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