G.R. Davis, Jr.
February 9, 1997
Mamma's Green Pot
I was washing dishes this morning and again was thinking of you. Why? Because this green pot of yours that we've had for years was doing its duty again. It's the pot I always use for cooking grits. It's just the right size, and those pesky grits that tend to harden like cement are more easily scrubbed out of this pot than any other we have. How this particular pot became a part of our kitchen I don't recall, but it has been with us for years and always when I use it and wash it, I think of Mamma. It may have been sent home with us years ago after a dinner at Mamma's house with words like "Ya'll take this on home with you and heat it up later. We have more than we can eat here, so ya'll take it." Or maybe it was when one of the kids was baptized and Mamma came to help us prepare a feast to be celebrated by family and close friends. Mamma brought plenty to eat, and since we live several hours away, and at that time were really struggling to pay the bills, Mamma brought pots and pans and untensils and crystal for the occassion. Somehow, this pot got left behind at our house. Even though I don't recall the the events that lead to its arrival, I know why it stayed with us. As is typically of her cooking style, Tia overfills any pot she cooks in, then abandons it to the burner on high. It never fails. The pot boils over, spewing rivers of goo down the outside to sizzle and stink on the burner. This time, the pot was left longer than usual so that what was formerly food inside was now a new type of charcoal that seemed to be permanently welded to the pot, inside and out. We never ate that meal, and the pot seemed to be ruined. Even after the most vigorous scrubbing with steel wool and oven cleaner, the outside remained a tainted green with large spots that will forever remain blackened by the burnt food. This pot was in no condition to be returned to Mamma. It certainly would not match the rest of that Club Aluminum set that she had been so proud of when it was new. I secretly hoped that Mamma wouldn't notice this little pot missing from her kitchen.
Mamma has been in our kitchen many times since then and I'm sure see has seen this little green pot. She never asked for it back, and now after all these years, I know that I need it more than she does. Not just to cook in, but to remind me of Mamma every time I use it. On Saturday and Sunday mornings, I cook grits and eggs for the kids, so twice each weekend I am reminded of Mamma. This morning I was scrubbing the little specks of grits from inside and thought of how much this very pot is like Mamma. Its getting older, showing signs of age and repeated misuse, dents and dings, permanent charrings around its base. It's a bit warped now so the lid doesn't fit quite right any more. And the knob on the lid wobbles and gyrates, but as loose as it seems, it never, never comes off. The handle has been retightened a couple of times and is as solidly connect as any pot is to any handle. This pot, regardless of age or appearance, still serves its purpose, not only for cooking grits but often for vegetables on the stove when we don't use the microwave. There are even times when it would be quicker to cook in the microwave, but I pull out this old green pot instead because I like the memories it recalls. Memories of Mamma at the stove, cooking grits for us every day, or cooking vegetables for Sunday dinner in the days before microwave ovens.
Mamma, you can have your pot back if you really want it. But I hope you can see what it means to me. This pot is a symbol of you; getting older with obvious imperfections and showing the signs of everyday use and abuse, but still serving its purpose faithfully. Dull, scratched green and charred black on the outside, but shiny like silver on the inside. Its contents nourish me and my family. I see you in this pot. Others see God when they look at you.
Someday, I hope my children will forget to return something of mine which will thereafter remind them of me and how much I love them the way you love me.
G.R. Davis, Jr.
February 9, 1997