Like millions of others, for the past month, I’ve been working from home. I miss my coworkers, and our downtown office more than I can articulate, but I’m ever-so-grateful to have a job in these uncertain times.
Unfortunately, my fella’s business has been severely waylaid by the quarantine. But on the upside, for me anyway, with his free time he is doing things like frothing cream and bringing lattes to my desk, providing Oreos for my Zoom meetings, and for dinner, he has been cooking the comfort foods of his childhood.
Late one afternoon, I looked up from my computer long enough to notice that the weather outside appeared to be perfect. I pushed open the tall window behind my desk, and settled back to work.
A soft breeze carried the scent of the neighbor’s freshly cut lawn; the first of the season. I tapped away at my keyboard with a smile on my face. I’ve been worried about a lot of things lately, but the steady sound of a lawnmower, coupled with the scent of new-mown grass, buoyed my spirits.
Gradually, I became aware of a different sound. A vaguely familiar popping noise accompanied by the whiff of a distinct, but long-forgotten memory. I closed my eyes, and guided by the senses of smell and sound, I searched the recesses of my mind.
Suddenly, I was four-years-old, lying on my grandmother’s living room floor. Propped on my elbows, I was choosing the next crayon I would use for the masterpiece that would would soon be hanging on her pink refrigerator.
Sheer curtains were blowing in a breeze that carried the sound of my grandpa’s riding mower. I colored faster so I could finish my picture and take a ride with him. He’d let me steer if I didn’t veer off course and mess up his straight lines.
But I better hurry because the sound of popping grease, and the smell of Crisco melting into the iron skillet indicated that dinner preparations were well under way. Fried potatoes with onions, and maybe little bits of ham, would soon be dished out alongside kielbasa or burgers or perhaps the sloppiest of sloppy joes.
I lingered in that long-ago space for as long as the scents and sounds would allow. My grandmother’s house in 1973 was a safe place, without burden.
In that childhood moment, I hadn’t worried yet about losing a job, or a small business going under, or keeping my young children safe while making hard decisions about whether to see my adult children.
My father was young and healthy, and hadn’t yet lost a portion of his lung to a rare infection only months prior to a global respiratory pandemic.
In that long-ago moment, I felt safe and secure. It’s no wonder the scents and sounds of that day became a future comfort.
I walked into my 2020 kitchen and smiled at the man busily preparing dinner in my grandmother’s old, cast-iron, skillet.
“What?” he asked with mild suspicion.
“Are you using Crisco?”
“Yeah, I’m frying chicken for the cacciatore. Why?”
“I’ll tell you later,” I promised as I headed back to work
Nineteen-seventy-three was safe and without burden for me, but it wasn’t necessarily for my grandparents. By then, they had lived through a lot of trauma, tragedy, and uncertainty, and they continued living through a lot more.
I don’t think they considered themselves to be “strong” people. They were simply living life, rolling with the punches, and figuring it out on the fly. They just kept taking the next step, because as my grandmother used to say, somehow, when it’s all said and done, everything is going to be ok.
Syndicated columnist Ginger Claremohr is an author, speaker, and mother of five. Follow her on Facebook, find her on the web: www.claremohr.com, or contact email@example.com.