Lisa Wathen
Sep 13 · 2 min read
Photo by Scott Rodgerson on Unsplash

Before my parents moved

Their last move

It took them a year to sort through everything

Decades of things they couldn’t take with them.

Of course, some they could not relinquish

And why not? This life is still theirs.

But my mother’s recipe box


Got lost.

“You were never going to cook any of that stuff,”

Her words trembling with shock at the loss,

“But maybe it would have meant something to you anyway.”

She wept

The loss cruel

Because it was not lists of ingredients,

Cooking temperatures,


It was a scrapbook of time

Splashes and drops and stains from living moments

Smells and tastes, the scaffolding of our lives.

Scraps of handwriting


Slightly crooked


A fading script

(Annotations on a newspaper clipping)

Conjures shadows of other times

Erases death

Evokes sunny family meals before life inflicted so many wounds and


Childhood —



More than 100 years in that box.

Dozens of people

Contributing muses to the culinary compositions of our shared lives.

All gone.

A hundred casualties

Each one an unappreciated tether to generations before,

Now severed.

Death’s irrevocability echoes in this loss

Reverberating when she goes to her kitchen

Plans a meal.

We are in mourning:

The metaphoric demise

Of those we have held dear —

Their scraps of paper,

Littered with dribbles and spills

stained with use

Our last physical connection.

I do not tell her to build a new collection

Embark on the adventure of recreating favorite flavors and meals

That is not the point.

And so we keep watch

Mark the passing of something shared


And in my own kitchen,

Though none of the recipes are ones I would use

I wear the black apron

As I prepare the evening meal.

Lisa Wathen

Written by

Teacher, writer, musician, dedicated to story telling and connecting with people.

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade