The other day, cleaning up the Holiday pots and pans, I got to thinking about pots and pans. And what they mean ... what they represent.
When Joyce and I married in December 1969, we got soume assorted pots and pans from various friends and family members. It was in the days before wedding registries (well, for the likes of us), well before the Internet days. The pans we got were all of the latest "hot" brand for the middle class, a brand, of course, I can't recall.
[Pause for a Google search.]
[About a minute later.]
Farberware. That was the name. And as I looked at the online photographs, I realize that we do have a couple of pieces remaining from our "wedding set": an electric frying pan (which we still use now and again), a covered pot (ditto). See below!
[Pause while I go find and photograph them.]
[A couple of minutes later.]
Another odd coincidence: I'd forgotten that we stored the cooking pot on top of the electric frying pan in our crowded cupboards. (And I also found another wedding gift we still have and use--a hand mixer, green, a Sunbeam Mixmaster, a gift from my grandmother Osborn. Forty-seven years ago. Still works. Nary a repair.)
Nowadays we use the frying pan mostly to brown the turkey sausage we use on pizza--and in omelets. (My parents used theirs for about everything--from hamburgers to scrambled eggs, to buckwheat pancakes, one of my dad's specialties.) The pot we now use almost exclusively for mashing potatoes.
We had a lot of Farberware (and Corning Ware) back in the day (we still have a single piece of Corning--for nostalgia's sake). But times changed, and we began acquiring new cookware--All-Clad, which we love. They have a great exchange policy, too: If something fails, they replace it, free of charge--no matter how old. (We know this is more than mere words: We've done it a couple of times.)
Anyway ... back to what I was thinking about when I was cleaning pots and pans after Holiday events. We all reach a point--if we live long enough--when we no longer use such things. My grandmother Osborn (she of the green Mixmaster gift) had, at the end of her 80 years of life (May 1978), the same pots and pans that I remembered from my earliest boyhood. I don't know how much cooking she was doing by then (she lived in a multi-stage retirement community in Columbia, Missouri), but when we went out there for her funeral, there they were--spic and span, by the way (Grandma!)--and stacked neatly where they had been since she'd moved there. I think we donated them to Goodwill or something. All I know is that I don't have any of them.
When my mom moved into her stages-of-care place in 2000 (I think that was the year), she took her pots and pans with her, stored them in her kitchenette in her "independent living" apartment--and very, very rarely used them thereafter. I think we donated them all to Goodwill, as well, when she made her move into assisted living a few years later.
Now, at 97, she cannot remember how to use the microwave that's in her place. I don't think she ever even looks in her little refrigerator. When he visits, my younger brother often cleans it out, disposing of the leftovers and food-gifts that Mom's caretakers have placed there to turn green.
So ... the other day ... cleaning our own pots and pans ... I started to think about that day when we will no longer use them, that day which once seemed impossibly far away and now looms darkly on the near horizon, looms and leers with all the sneering cruelty of a playground bully, a bully who knows he can take you. And will.