When I think of places I’ve been where I was the happiest, the first that comes to mind is my mother’s kitchen. Throughout my life, Mama reigned over four different kitchens, but it doesn’t matter which one I think of- they were all special because they were Mama’s.
In each kitchen, Mama had a step stool. The actual stool changed from time to time, as they were worn out from usage, but she always had one handy for us to sit on. This was the place where my brothers and sister and I perched to watch her prepare meals, bake cakes, cookies, and pies, or to simply sit to talk to her. As a little girl, I would pull the stool up to the kitchen counter to help her stir batter, roll out cookie or biscuit dough, pound meat, and flour chicken for frying. I also stood on the stool to wash dishes until I was tall enough to reach the faucets. I learned a lot from my mother as I spent time with her in the kitchen. And as I grew older, I discovered that this was the best place, not only to learn how to cook, but to solve problems, make decisions, and heal from hurt feelings or a broken heart.
I remember how good Mama’s kitchen smelled. She didn’t need scented candles in her house. There was always something baking or stewing or frying that would set our stomachs to growling and our mouths to watering. As I write this piece tonight, I can smell the fried apple pies, sugar cookies, pot roast, or Sunday leg of lamb that I could always identify long before I entered the kitchen. And thinking about the aromas of wonderful food coming from her kitchen, I feel happy and secure.
It’s funny how memories like this bring on a sense of happiness and well-being. The memories are sweet – not only those of the foods Mama prepared, but also those of the talks we had and the way she always made me feel like I was the most special little girl in the world. Mama was a gentle soul. She had a deep faith, and a steadfast belief in the goodness in all people. She loved taking care of her family and fixing meals we all would enjoy. The conversations that we had with Mama in her kitchen were extras and often serendipitous. They just happened. And they were special.
I was in my own kitchen today making a grilled cheese sandwich for lunch. I don’t know what it was, but something struck a chord with me, and took me back in time to my mama’s kitchen. Even though I was alone, I could feel her love reach across the years and caress me. I also thought about my own two sons. I used to make grilled cheese sandwiches for them when they were small. Like Mama, I had a kitchen stool for them to sit on to talk, or to stand on to reach the counters. I hope that they have the same feelings about me and my kitchen as I do about my mama’s.
Kitchens and happiness. They just seem to go hand in hand. At least, they do for me. How about you?