I took the boxes of recipes and put them on an empty shelf, high in a kitchen cabinet. Going through the cards inside would be a hefty undertaking and I didn't have the time. Later I would read them, decipher the handwriting, interpret pencil hidden by grease spatters.
More than a year later we moved, and the boxes moved with us, taking up residence in a corner of a pantry shelf too awkward for holding things I wanted to access regularly. There has still not been time to fix plaster or paint walls or hang pictures, all of which sit in boxes in the attic. No time for weekend visits to relatives in other states when you're walking with your head down, just trying to slog through each day. Certainly no time for those five plastic index card files. Maybe when the kids are all in school. A project for the future.
Another year, and I found myself opening one. Just one, let's peek inside. Maybe it will assuage the guilt of not visiting in two years, of never introducing her to my baby, of neglecting to print photos and put them in the mail.
The card stared me in the face:
Crab and Cream Cheese Dip
Recipe courtesy Commander's Palace
Printed, cut out, folded around an index card. Paperclipped to others, printed, cut out, folded around index cards. A box full of appetizers and soups. I remembered how they got internet service for the first time and she discovered the Food Network website. So many recipes! Such an amazing new passtime. Printed, cut out, folded around index cards. To make someday.
The second box was the same. And the third.
The fourth box, a white one, predated the internet. Magazine clippings for icings, carrot cakes, fruit pies. To make someday. One or two older, hand-written cards tucked in between. Nothing I recognized.
The fifth box, the big one. Did it contain lost family secrets? Or did it contain a package of blank index cards, an assortment of clippings? To file someday. To make someday.
This evening, my father, aunt, and uncle gathered and gave permission for her ventilator to be turned off. And for the second time today, I lost my grandmother.
I'm going to cook my way through the cards anyway. Why did I expect the boxes to be full of something else? I remember her enthusiasm for the bounty to be found on recipe sites, and it makes perfect sense that she (like me) would have been an avid clipper of labels and magazines. What was it that drew her to Emeril's Chowder of Love? What has she given me, and will it help me to find her again?