There’s something comforting in knowing you can go home again. When I head down to Florida to visit my mom, I’m not just catching up and enjoying her company: I’m entering a time capsule.
No sooner do we talk about getting ready for dinner than out comes the same metal strainer (the holes are in the shape of stars) she used when I was a boy. Yes, one part of me wonders whether that faded metal is somehow leaching into my lettuce, but another is amazed at how she manages to keep these things in working order when I can’t keep a toaster operational for more than two years.
Her crockpot is the same bicentennial edition she used in 1976. Her food processor is a Moulinex “La Machine,” and it’s older than most of my coworkers. I’m pretty sure the marks at the bottom are Benjamin Franklin’s initials. She still uses some of the pots and pans I thought I’d scratched into uselessness with a fork while learning to scramble eggs.
When something needs to be fixed, I find myself rummaging through my dad’s old tool chest and entering the early 20th Century. It’s littered with wooden handles and forged iron tools that each weigh more than my suitcase. Many still bear the chips and scars of my unsteady, adolescent hand. The screwdriver set is still missing the ones I’d accidently kicked down the drain or left on top of the car before driving off.
The liquor cabinet stands impossibly pristine, yet only ghosts remain of the many bottles they’d collected in their travels. This is understandable, as most had been carefully drained and refilled with water before my high school mixers. My parents probably performed an exorcism to figure out why so little of their alcohol tasted like it did in the outside world. The key remains forever in the lock now, a decorative fob hanging from it like an open invitation that no one answers. These days, the good stuff’s in the refrigerator.
The serving trays and china sets still serve the useful functions they performed decades earlier. The furniture and lamps all look in factory condition, their covers re-upholstered or lovingly polished into a lifespan longer than any modern manufacturer would dare promise.
The house is full of the memories of my childhood. The bobby’s helmet from their trip to London when I was in elementary school still rests on the living room shelf.
Our high school graduation photos still appear haphazardly throughout the house, our eyes glazed with a bemused hope. The papal blessing is still affixed to the wall, the pope who gave it having gone to God some forty years earlier. (If it has an expiration date, my mom’s not telling.)
Of course, more important than any memories hanging on the walls are the new ones we make with each visit. No collection of memorabilia can replace the love my mom showers upon us every time her family gets to visit. I’m truly lucky I get to enter a time capsule that only gets more meaningful, more relevant, more enjoyable with every visit. Wherever she is, that is home to me.
That said, I’m thinking about getting her a new strainer to eliminate metal toxicity. (It’s cheaper than a new food processor.)
You can read more at RobertFWalsh.net, contact him at rob@RobertFWalsh.net or follow him on Twitter @RobertFWalsh.