Today I called my grandmother and asked her if I could have her rolling pin and some of her aprons when she dies. She's been fretting over the sheer volume of things in the house, and what will happen to all of them and where they'll go and if we, the children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren, have room and/or need of them. Mostly I don't have room and/or need of more things, but I want these pieces of her. I want to keep her in my kitchen. I want to keep the engine of her hospitality and caregiving and endless capacity to bountifully feed anyone who walks through her door. I want to keep the skill of her hands. I want to keep the shape of her beautiful person - which is also mine. My short fingers, I got from my father, and he got them from her. My echoing barrel of a ribcage is hers as well.
She seemed surprised. She asked if there was anything else I wanted from her kitchen; I'm sure there must be, but I couldn't picture anything else. I've watched her prepare dozens of meals, but what I remember is her hands and her wrists, her beautiful long hair pinned up with who knows how many hairpins. Her grace. Her absolutely tiny self standing on a kitchen stool to get a bowl. The way my grandfather would walk through the kitchen and pat her and say, "My sweetheart."
She's so lovely. We tell her constantly. I hope she knows it's true.