Me: . . . worried about heating food in a microwave. As though it will contaminate food. I’m like, dude, it’s a tool. It’ll be fine. I told him to figure out a solution.
I stood, chomping on grapes in a house I have known all my life. The copper gelatin molds glistened from the wall near the ceiling. The wine bottles, gathering dusk, waiting for the next generation of toddlers to christen the floor with them, were tucked under the breakfast bar that I spent my whole childhood kicking as I ate. The fridge door was full of magnets with some bringing memories of creating intricate stories on the fridge as I waited for the rain to let up or receive another order on helping in the kitchen.
My grandma handed Tornado E back to me. He tried to whack me with the shiny set of measuring spoons that I suspected were older than me. “Babies love measuring spoons.”
Grandma: Hold on a sec, Fae.
She pulled a stool over and climbed on it took look in an upper shelf next to the double oven. She dug into the back of the cupboard. I bounced Tornado E on my hip and gave him the names of all the things in the kitchen he pointed to. “Sink.” “Plate.” “Plant.” “Window.” “Mixer.” “Island.”
My grandma is a little, dark thing. I out grew her at 11. It was a rite of passage to look over her head. My family is funny that way.
Grandma: Ah. Here it is.
She pulled out a pink ceramic something and stepped down off the stool, placing the dish on the rolling island. Tornado E and I peered at it.
Grandma: I got this when I had your Aunt D. (She pulled off the white ceramic plugs with cork underneath the ceramic.) You pour warm water in here. And you place the food in the dish. It’ll warm the food and keep it warm. I fed your mother, your aunts, and your uncle with it. I fed each one of you kids (She meant my cousins, my brothers, and I.) from it when you were over. You can have it. But don’t tell anyone. I don’t want anyone to think I’m playing favorites.
My mom snorted as she walked into the room, hearing the last few lines. She took Tornado E out of my arms. I picked up the bowl, studying it. A sense of history and honor ran through me.
My Mom: You’re not playing favorites. You’re passing on a family heirloom to your eldest granddaughter.
But we all knew I was the favorite granddaughter. I was older than the other granddaughter by a good ten years, plenty of time to establish my role by staying the night, sitting with them in church, “helping” my grandma cook, “helping” my grandpa fix cars. I was the first of the family to attend a university, cementing my place at the grown-up table, passing an aunt, an uncle, and two older cousins. I was the first to present a legitimate grandchild and the first to have my child baptized in the family baptismal gown, passed down through four generations. So, yeah, I’m the favorite. I have plastic barrettes somewhere that say so. Well, technically they say “Grandpa’s Girl” because my grandma couldn’t read the small writing very well. But it suited my grandpa just fine.
I held the dish.
Me: Thank you, Grandma. I’ll take good care of it. I really appreciate this. It’s the perfect solution.
I held the dish. Memories played in my head, first bites, first tries, hundreds of meals mixed together, trying to put just a couple more drops of formula in the food to hide it. Another generation fed from a serving dish.
I placed it on a high shelf, pushing it to the back, where it will wait for another baby.