Once upon a time, in the age in which we live, there came a holiday not unlike many holidays. It is a tradition in this land to share time and a Feast with Family at these times. This is like that.
And, as so often happens, the eight year old Daughter is helping Mum in the ritual of preparing the Feast. Potatoes are skinned and washed, cans are opened and poured. mum looks now and then at her “Book of Shadows” for the proper pinch of this, and dash of that.
And the Pot Roast is put upon the cutting board. Mum takes the ritual knife and carefully marks and cuts a 1½” piece off of each end of the Pot Roast, then places it in the roasting pan.
Eight year old Daughters being what they are, the Daughter turns her head just a bit, and asks, “Why is it that we cut the ends off the Pot Roast?”
The Mum, without missing a step as she is moving toward the oven says in reply, “because it will cook better that way,” and closes the door of the oven with the pot Roast safely inside. Straightening up and rolling her eyes towards the ceiling in thought, Mum gives a soft “hmmmmmmmmmm.”
Mum twists her face, as she looks over her answer and says, “To be honest, Dear, that answer doesn’t make sense. I don’t really know why I do that. This is what your Grandmother taught me to do, so this is what I do. I have never thought to ask why.”
“So, my Daughter, if you wish to know, you must ask your Grandmother.”
Daughter says “oh” as an eight year old often does, turned and headed for the living room when the din of a television and many voices of Family melded together as a shadow of noise in the background. Grandmum sat, almost as if she were in her own world, yet seemingly taking everything in.
Without introduction or permission, as an eight year old often does, Daughter appeared before Grandmum and asked, “Grandmum, why do we cut the ends of the Pot Roast off?”
With hardly a pause, Grandmum replied, “That is the way I have always done this. It is the way to cook a Pot Roast because this is the way my Mother, your Great Grandmother, taught me to do so.”
“Oh,” Daughter simply said, sensing that was the end of the answer, the words being offered in the absolute. Daughter twisted her face a bit trying to form a question that could get around the answer given, but before she could speak the question, Uncle George was bending to her ear with his hand on her shoulder.
Uncle George was always telling stories and laughing in the wrong places. He seemed as though he did not fit into this Family as much as everyone else did.
Uncle George always arrived at these visits with gifts for the children that always received frowns from the adults when presented. In her pocket, Daughter had her first tube of lip gloss ever. “The Rosy Pink goes so well with your cheeks.” Uncle George said as Mum looked on with disapproval.
Now, Uncle George says softly into Daughter’s ear, “Your Nana is on the porch. Go ask her.” And, the Rosy pink did go so well with her cheeks.
Great Grandmother sat in the warm mid afternoon sun of late Fall. The chair that creaked as she rocked seemed to be as old as her, and to Daughter, she was very old. Her dress was for comfort, not fashion, and she pulled repeatedly on a corn cob pipe that seemed to bother everyone.
As before, without introduction, Daughter presented herself and her question. Deep brown eyes sparkled well within sockets set behind the leather-like wrinkled flesh of Great Grandmother’s face.
“Child,” Great Grandmother said, holding her hands in front of her about eight inches apart, corn cob pipe in her right hand. “My roasting pan was only this big!”