I always find it amazing when one simple thing like ripping off a piece of aluminum foil can set in motion an eternity of memories.
It happened this morning.
Barry loves egg salad. His mom, Flo, loved egg salad, too. Flo made the best egg salad in the entire world, and Barry has equaled her recipe. (Not exceeded, mind you. Equaled.) There are all kinds of secrets to this best egg salad in the world… one of them being the juice of an onion. There is not one single onion fragment in this recipe. Just the onion juice.
So this morning, Barry was cutting and dicing and all the things he needed to do with his egg salad creation, but he was in a huge hurry to get to a meeting on time. I jumped into action by getting the onion, the bread, the mayonnaise… and the aluminum foil. Barry always wraps his egg salad sandwiches in aluminum foil, rather than sandwich bags, to keep them beautifully intact.
And… as I ripped off a piece of aluminum foil, it was like I was back in Flo’s kitchen. The sound time-traveled me back over 34 years. I was a young bride, anxious to learn all the things Flo had to teach about Barry’s favorite foods. But that day, I ripped off more aluminum foil than was necessary.
“What are you doing?” Flo asked. Yes, impatiently.
“Um. Getting the aluminum foil…” I answered.
“You don’t need that much tin foil,” she stated. Flo called aluminum foil tin foil. And she wasn’t through with me. “We used to save tin foil during the war. We didn’t waste it. Look how much you’re wasting.”
“Um. OK,” I responded, trying to figure out what to do with that extra inch of foil. I needn’t have worried. Flo took the piece of foil from my hands, quickly laid it over the edge of the counter, and ripped a perfect little piece off the one I had ripped off the roll. She efficiently smoothed it, folded it and stored it in a drawer with 2,000 other pieces of tin foil.
Flo was all about not wasting anything. She was a child of The Great Depression and had grown up with lessons of frugality and conscious and purposeful ways to save. The tin foil incident was my initiation into Flo’s world.
I remember it like it was today.
As I grew to know my mother-in-law and her ways, I found myself imitating her in the most respectful and loving ways. I loved her for her sense of purpose, her great talents in the kitchen, and her way of always finding enough, and more than enough, time, love, sharing and food for everyone she knew. I would learn that the money saved on that inch of tin foil would go into a gift for someone else.
Yes, that sound of the ripping tin foil this morning brought all of this back. And I quickly double-checked to see if what I had ripped was exactly enough to wrap Barry’s egg salad sandwich.
It was. It couldn’t be any other way.