Saturday, March 30, 2013

Wooden Spoons...And Empty Nests

My grandmother was a large woman. Tall, with girth to match. She was an immigrant from Palermo, Italy where she wed my grandfather in an arranged marriage My grandfather was a rather small man. Short and skin-to-bone thin. The logistics of the their marital unions always puzzled me but it really wasn't mine to wonder on, they had nine children together so I guess they figured things out. Right up until the time he left her for his "putana", as my grandmother called the blond woman he moved in with.

Anyway, there is a vision of her that is so clear in my mind. She is standing in front of the stove stirring gravy (sauce to you non-Italians) in a white pot with a wooden spoon, one hand on her hip.The wooden spoon was her go to kitchen tool for anything she needed; stir the gravy, scramble eggs, fry the peppers, stuff the turkey, make the soup, and wave in the air like a orchestral leader's baton as she talked with her hands...on the phone. If she were taking a pot of meatballs and sausage to someone's house, she would use the wooden spoon as a vice to tighten the kitchen towel from under the pot to secure the lid. It never spilled.

It was also her weapon of choice to keep a bunch of giggling cousins in line as we waited for her to fix dinner on Friday nights. I don't ever remember her actually using it on us, but it cast a long shadow raised in her large arm when we were getting out of hand.

I thought of her, and that warm kitchen with the wonderful smells, as I sat drinking coffee this morning. Feeling a little nostalgic, I happened to glance over at my own container of wooden spoons sitting next to the stove where I also used them to stir the gravy and make the soups for my own family.

There is a little sadness as I gaze around my quiet kitchen this morning as my youngest son moved out yesterday and took a little bit of noise with him. God knows it was time for him to go, but as I passed his empty bedroom this morning, I realized his absence is permanent. He, along with his long-time girlfriend Melissa, bought a house that is just perfect and I couldn't be happier for them...and yet a little sad at the same time.
The new homeowners!

I spent so much time in this kitchen, with family and friends gathered around the table, while using my wooden spoons to fill their bowls and plates with so many recipes that I've gathered over the years. I can still hear the chatter of my two little boys as we stirred the chocolate chips in the dough every Christmas...and yes, with a wooden spoon. If fact, there is a Halloween picture that still hangs on my refrigerator where the boys are dressed as pirates and wooden spoons are tucked into their belts as makeshift knives.

My nest is not just empty now, it's broken. Our house is on the market and a new life is on the horizon for me. That makes things a little tougher but I refuse to wallow in the sadness of it all. I will pull up my big girl panties and make a life worth living.

I am thrilled that both my sons have the same joy for cooking that I do. As a matter of fact, Kyle is now a chef and Trevor, well, he makes a mean pot of crab chowder and is a master on the grill. It's a commonality that bonds us! So wherever my new kitchen is, we will gather around the table and share the love and laughter that families do. The lucky ones anyway.

Kyle is on his own now and Trevor, who has been out of the house for years, is about to get married. So much to look forward to. So much to do. So much to be grateful for. And, no matter where my next next next stove is, my wooden spoons will be sitting beside it ready to make new memories. Mangiare bene! 


  1. poignant... beautiful... touching... thought provoking... fabulous as always!

    love you!!! xoxo

  2. I always admire this life.... so lucky you are.

    1. Thanks so much. I feel blessed. Thanks for reading!

  3. Thank you Jess! The love is mutual my friend!