For some reason that I can’t quite remember, my aunt Gladys gave me, quite a few years ago, the metal/plastic egg beater that belonged to her and my grandmother (Gladys never married, so she lived with her mother until the latter died). I don’t know how old it is, it was probably bought during one of their more recent trips to the US, in the early 1960’s, though it could be older.

It’s a simple tool, an eggbeater like most others – though this one has plastic beaters. All the other ones I’ve seen have metal ones. Of course, plastic is not as sturdy as metal, and this one has a broken piece. It also has rusting metal. Still, 50 or 60 years later, it still works perfectly.

I don’t know if I’ve used it since I got it, at least a decade ago. When I moved to this house, I put it on the top shelf of a kitchen cabinet (the one I can’t reach without standing on a chair). Whenever I’ve had to beat eggs, I’ve used an electric mixer or a whisk.

Yesterday, however, Camila and I were making flan together, and the recipe called for four beaten eggs. I didn’t want to use the stand electric mixer for that, and yet I knew we weren’t going to get far with a simple whisk (Camila now insists on doing everything, but she still doesn’t have the skills to do everything well) – so I took it out. Camila had never seen one before, and I know it would interest her.

As I said, it works perfectly. What an easy, quick way of beating eggs! After we were done, I thought I should buy a new one (though they’re about $13 at Amazon!, my friend Elektra recommends looking for one at a thrift store, and I may still do that). I’m actually afraid of using this one – not just because it’s rusting – but because I don’t want to get it any more broken. I feel as if I had borrowed it, rather than inherited it, and I have to return it in as good condition.

It’s not as simple as that, of course. I also have my grandmother’s old Better Homes & Gardens cookbook – that book that I perused so many times as a child. And I have their recipe book, where Gladys or Granny hand wrote so many recipes. I’ve thought about cooking from those books – trying to make that delicious sponge cake with lemon frosting, the white cake with chocolate-dulce de leche frosting, or the chocolate-mint cake, which along with pies, were their signature dishes when I was growing up. I haven’t been able to do it. Granny has been dead for 30 years, Gladys died only 2 years ago, however, and I still can’t think of her without falling into a well of tears. Perhaps using their stuff, cooking their food, is too strong a reminder that they’re no longer here. I want to cook their food, but for them – and I never did, and I will never be able to do it now.

In addition to the eggbeater, I also have the kitchen timer that I grew up hearing ring at their home. I’ve started using it because all the other times I’ve had, have broken. It’s good that I use it, right? It might get stuck otherwise. It hasn’t broken in 50 years, it’s not going to break now. Right?

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