Tuesday, April 29, 2014

More than a mixer

I was supposed to be taking this coming Friday off from work to have a spa day with my mama to celebrate her birthday. Instead, I took this morning off to drive my mama back to the airport, so that she could return to California to be with her family. Spa day, and life for her, are on hold. My grandfather passed away two weeks ago today, and now my grandma's health has taken a turn for the worse. What was already a hard time for our family has gotten that much harder. My heart is heavy. April just will not end.

I have felt a magnetic pull towards my KitchenAid mixer over the past few weeks; it's shiny, sturdy stand whispering my name every time I walk by. It holds a prominent place on our counter tops, and I catch it's sparkling metal bowl of an eye almost every time I pass the kitchen. I have felt the urge to bake, to measure and stir and mix and settle into the familiar rhythm, but I have offered every excuse in the book: I don't have the ingredients, I don't have the time, there are more important things. Baking is such a love of mine, and yet I keep myself from it as if it's a chore. It's not a chore. It's therapy.



My mixer holds a special place in my heart. Anyone who has a KitchenAid would probably say the same thing - it's a treasured kitchen tool. But my love for mine is different. My mixer has a story.


When C and I were engaged and planning our wedding, we put together a registry, like most couples these days do. We added item after item, spending a lot of time on kitchen things, because we both love to cook - however, we had most general tools, and there weren't a ton of things we needed. I added a KitchenAid mixer on my own, with a little wish in my heart that someone would make it happen for me. We registered early, and I kind of forgot about it. Too many other things going on with wedding planning, of course.

My mom called me one day, confirming the news that my grandparents would not be able to come for the wedding. Her parents, both in their 80s, just couldn't travel from Oregon to Virginia - it was too much. I had expected as much, and it wasn't surprising. I would miss having them there, but knew that it wasn't personal, it was just practical. But then my mom told me about a conversation she'd had with her father. He wanted to get C and I a wedding gift, but he wasn't sure what to buy. He didn't really understand about "registries," and he was a novice at surfing the web - the dial-up connection on the side of the mountain where my grandparents lived in Oregon was not really conducive to such activities. My mom had explained it to him, telling him that C and I had a website where we listed things that we'd like to receive. She sat on the phone with him, reading things off the list. He rejected suggestion after suggestion. My grandfather was a very frugal man, and a very practical man. He wanted to gift us something that would last, something we'd use, that would be meaningful and remind us of my grandparents and be worth his money. Mom said that eventually, they'd settled on something. He provided the credit card information, and Mom placed the order. She wouldn't tell me what it was, but she said I'd understand when it arrived.


The moment the KitchenAid box arrived on my doorstep, I did understand. I knew exactly why it had been the right gift for my grandfather to give. It had been well-worth his money, in his eyes, to send us such a thing - after all, he himself had a KitchenAid that had withstood the time of decades. He knew it was a worthy present to bestow.


You see, my love of baking was passed to me through my blood - I was taught the skills, sure, but the love for the actual act runs in my veins. Some of my earliest and clearest memories of my grandfather involve him standing in front of his mixer, making bread or cookies or whatever he fancied. His "cookies" are kind of a joke in my family - they have about a million ingredients and are far more healthy than they are a dessert. He always made homemade bread, and was especially known for his pies. I'm pretty sure that there is a little piece of my soul that is made of blackberry pie, warm from the oven, filled to bursting with berries that we'd picked hours earlier off the bushes on the side of the road. My grandpa would take the buckets of berries, pull together a homemade crust, and create a culinary work of art. Then, as the pie cooled, he'd pull the Umpqua-brand ice cream from the freezer, and dish us all big pieces. There may not be anything better in the world than fresh, hot blackberry pie with ice cream. What I'd give for a piece right this moment. And what I'd give for another moment of watching Grandpa in the kitchen, his KitchenAid whirring in the background.



When we opened the box, I called my grandparents to profusely thank them, and share my pleasure at receiving such a treat. I made a point to tell my grandpa when I was using my mixer, emailing pictures of my creations and making C take my photo while standing next to it and grinning like a mad woman. It was important to me that he know it was important. My grandfather was a tough old man, who had lived a long life. He had made a determined effort in the last few years to show his love to his family, and to do right by them. It was not always easy, and every memory isn't a good one. But the last few years were different, and that mixer speaks volumes. He was very careful about the things he assigned value to. If he was willing to part with several hundred dollars to make sure I had a good mixer, it really, truly said something. I'm not sure I've ever been given a gift so precious.

So today, I found the time to pull that gigantic, heavy stand mixer forward and plug it in. As I stood in my kitchen in the silence, mixing batter for cookies and adding ingredients and scraping the bowl, I said a little prayer. I prayed for my grandpa, and for my grandma, who has lost her life partner and had her world turned upside down, now finding herself in the hospital as an ultimate result of the stress and the heart-break. I have felt useless the last few weeks, being on the wrong coast as my mom struggles with the loss and stress of losing a parent, and as the rest of my family attempted to keep all the pieces together. It has felt like there was absolutely nothing I could do. Today, I did the thing that seemed and felt right. I baked. I pictured the years down the road where I will use that KitchenAid, and how much more precious it has become in the last few weeks. It was never just a mixer, and it never will be. It has a story - my story, and the story of a few decades, all rolled together. When it whispers my name, I will answer.

11 comments :

Maddie~The Whimsy One said...

Sweet friend, this made.me tear up! I too love mine and it is my therapy for sure. Love your story and the memories attached to it. Sorry about your grandfather and prayers for your grandma!

elizabeth @ chronic venture said...

Wow Lindsay, this was such a powerful post and had me tearing up at my desk. I am keeping your family in my thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.

Caroline {Virginia Sweet} said...

Beautiful Lindsay.... I too am tearing up at work. This is such a wonderful message and I know this post will make your family proud. My heart goes out to you at this time. Keep your chin up love!

Stephanie @ My Freckled Life said...

Lindsay, this is so beautiful! What an amazing tribute to your grandfather, and a wonderful way to honor and remember him. I know that April is about the worst month ever, but take comfort in the fact that it will end soon. And things WILL get better. Maybe not in the way that we hope or want, but they will get better. So keep hanging in there, and keep baking! Lots of prayers, hugs and thoughts headed your way!

Aileen Metcalf said...

Such a beautiful story! I second Stephanie's comments: hang in there, sending prayers and hugs, and keep baking :-)

Lindsay @ Typically Late said...

Thank you <3 we are trying to take it a little at a time, and just get through it... and trying to see things logically, but that can be so hard when emotions are running high. I appreciate your sweet comment!

Lindsay @ Typically Late said...

Thank you, friend <3 hopefully there are enough people in my office to eat all the things that are going to start coming from my kitchen :)

Ashley said...

I got the same mixer from my grandparents! It's the best.. seriously worth the money!

Kate @ Like American Honey said...

This is so sweet, and thank you for sharing! I can completely relate to baking feeling like therapy, and I also love my KitchenAid mixer. Yours is all the more special since it has such a wonderful story! I have a ring that my grandmother bought me years past, and it will always hold a special place in my heart. Sending hugs your way!

The Lady Okie said...

Thanks for sharing your story. That is really sweet, and a Kitchen Aid is such a wonderful gift, so he was right about that :) We also got our Kitchen Aid as a wedding gift. I registered for it on a total whim. I figured there was no way... but we got one! I was shocked. Baking is like therapy for me too sometimes. I love our mixer! Sorry for your loss, but I'm glad you have those happy memories :)

blm said...

truly a lovely story, lady. what a special memory and reminder to have of your grandpa. i am certain he will watch over your baking for all the years to come. <3