What I remember most about her kitchen isn’t the smell of the cigarettes smoldering in the orange plastic tray on the counter. It isn’t the roast simmering in the oven or how I would slink to the cabinet for butter crackers when she wasn’t looking. What I remember most isn’t how my aunt would stand with the hair dye in hand, setting her hair in pink spongy rollers. I don’t remember what the card game was that we played or all the words to “Go Tell Aunt Rhody” that she sang to the littlest ones as they rested on her lap. What I remember most isn’t the bitter taste of the coffee she would pour into the china cup he brought her back from the war and how she’d fill it mostly with cream for me to drink.
What I remember in my bones is the tangle of these women, not always easy and not always soft. But always with love. A tangle of words filled with small town gossip and the latest from Aunt Bev’s letter and the question of what to sell at the church bazaar. Her table. An everyday altar of love, crowded with these women. Best friends and daughters. Sisters. Coffee and cigarettes. A tangle of the living.