Kitchens are the heartbeat of any family. It is where you pour another cup of tea to fend of an impending cold. It is where you pour another cup of coffee and sit down to listen as the people dearest to you cry at the kitchen table. It is where Grandmas and Grandpas cement their place as better than parents (because every kid knows there is always dessert at Grandma’s), countless hours of homework are done, important talks happen, grievances are aired, people laugh and cry and fight and make-up.
Show me a family that has issues, and I’ll show you an empty kitchen.
So it is fitting to me that the only memory I have of great-grandparents’ house is of the kitchen. My great-grandma died when I was a baby, and my Great-Papa died when I was only four. They lived far away from my family, and so we didn’t often make the trip. The only memory I have of my Great-Papa is actually a memory of the house. They had this classic, farmhouse-style white kitchen and there was this plastic, daisy “thing” in the window by the sink. I believe in my soul it was a sun-catcher, however pictorial evidence proves otherwise. Most of my memories of my Papa are really my mom’s memories, passed down to me. But that one memory–that flower thing–is mine.
When I was wandering a vintage shop near my house last winter, I saw a plastic daisy “thing.” It’s not exactly the same, but I saw it and The Memory summoned itself up. I remembered that big, airy, white, old-fashioned kitchen. I remember looking up and seeing my mom and grandma talking about something–I’m sure it was probably the funeral. I remember the world seeming a lot bigger.
My mom is one of five siblings, four of whom had kids. I know whatever heirlooms my great-grandparents had, I will not probably inherit any of them. It is just as well. For me, most of them would just be “things.” But those plastic daisies, sitting in that vintage shop was a memory, and one that I wanted to lay claim to.
I bought those daisies, and they had a place of honor in my kitchen. So when people ask me why I have them, I can show them the picture of four generations of my family–my great-grandfather, my grandmother, my mother, and a tiny, baby me–and say, “Do you see that little orange blurry thing in the background? It was this daisy thing that’s just like this one, and I remember that…”