The Pan

My life is chronicled in the scars on a pan, which is an old lid to a roasting pan and not a pan at all. There are hundreds of scores on The Pan; each represents a golden memory to me. Each mark a moment in time, when my grandparents were still alive and loving me. Each nick a brand on my heart, a gauge in my soul. Each tally a batch of joy, happiness and a physical representation of the loves I have had and are lost to me, except for the precious memories I hold dear.

My grandparents made the holidays for me, for all of us, I think. We’d get up at o’dark thirty and drive in, my little sister touching me or looking at me or being just generally annoying. It was forever to get to Nannie and Poppie’s…. 4 hours. They’d wait for us. My cousins couldn’t open presents until we made it. I am sure there is still some resentment there. Christmas morning became easier when we moved to Louisiana. My aunt would call at the crack of dawn to make sure we were ready to go over to Nannie’s. How excellent to share the joy of Christmas with my family year in and year out, I miss this time.

My grandmother and grandfather would bake treats together when I was much younger. Nannie was dictatorial in her kitchen, ordering the ‘STIRRER” to continue stirring. Aside: Nannie, was dictatorial pretty much everywhere. Poppie would simply stir, but it was HIS hand holding The Spoon, stirring in The Pan. Poppie teasing and making jokes the whole time. Nan and Poppie taking a break from the cooking to enjoy their 4 o’clock cocktail of Haughton water, a low ball glass full of ice, vodka and a splash of water (just a good dollop).

They made all types of treats in The Pan and in their kitchen. The candies, cookies and treats were on a card table in the dining room. We’d steal goodies all weekend. All except the fudge; it was wrapped and walked out to the garage freezer and stacked in perfect rectangular battalions that Robbie and I would destroy ‘sneaking’ pieces. There is NO way to make a fudge packet wrap the same way twice, especially after Poppie wrapped them. I know now, they always knew we stole fudge. But, I don’t recall ever getting scolded for it. We got in more trouble with the rum balls for obvious reasons.

As the oldest grandchild, I remember the most. I feel sad that my baby cousin, Kasey, has so few of her own personal memories of my grandparents. But, we fill her head often. I fill her stomach each year with fudge, too. My uncle, Connie Mack was bequeathed The Pan after my Nannie passed away in 1993. He uses it all the time, just as it should be. (He does say it was the only think he was left by ‘that woman.’ He says it with love but if you knew Nannie, you giggle.) I was given The Pot and The Spoon previously used in the confection creations. Annually right before Thanksgiving, I am LOANED The Pan. The loan is for 1 month. I have wrapped it up as a Christmas gift to return it, just put in the pan drawer, I even put it in his truck once. The rule is two-fold: I MUST give The Pan back and I MUST deliver fudge!

This is such a bitter sweet labor. I can’t make the fudge in any other pot and the handle is falling off this old one. The Spoon is still great. But, The Pan will eventually be scored through. What will we do for fudge then? Each mark, score, tally and cut are images burned in my brain and in my heart. I am thankful for the times I had with Nannie and Poppie. I love them more each year that passes without them. I have two batches of fudge so far this year and as they did, I share with so many. It isn’t the same, but I know Nannie would be able to offer sage advice on how to improve the recipe. I keep listening, one day I will hear the whisper of her advice. Until that day and well, until next month, The Pan, The Pot and The Spoon are together for their annual fudge making. I hope you enjoy the fudge. It isn’t as good as theirs but it is my attempt at finding that remembrance and offering that joy to all.