Last night I made some soup. It wasn’t anything particularly special…certainly not gourmet by any stretch. But it was delicious. And it made me weep. I’m sure I probably put way too much emphasis on food (is that even possible?), but in this case I wasn’t being overly dramatic. Or at least I wasn’t trying to be. It was just really cold out (even snowing a bit) and I thought what better thing to have for dinner than a big bowl of hot vegetable soup. Using my great-grandmother’s method (it’s the only one I know), I dumped all the necessary ingredients in a big pot and let it simmer awhile. After a couple of hours, I went to check on the soup and when I lifted the lid off the pot, the smell completely transported me.
This soup was my grandma’s attempt at healthy cooking. Bless her heart, it has enough grease to clog an artery. But she knew I loved it and would often call me to come by and have a bowl for lunch. If I stopped by her house and she didn’t have any made fresh, she could always seem to find a container of it in the deep freeze, usually in a recycled cottage cheese tub, sometimes with my name written on a piece of masking tape on top. It might not seem like a big deal, but it made me feel loved. As I stood over the pot on my stove last night, with tears streaming down and thinking to myself what a magical thing scent can be, I was overwhelmed by how memories can feel so alive. It was like my grandma was right there with me. And in a way, she was. Here in the south, this is just one of the ways we keep the ones we love close to us even when they are physically gone. I love this quote from a book by Mary Karr, “She could no more be gone than gravity or the moon." That’s exactly how I feel about so many of the folks I have loved. We might not be able see or touch them, but we know they are with us all the same.