In that kitchen, every meal that had fed my family for a generation had been cooked. It was humbling to think that the raw materials that had gone into the making of my father and his four brothers, then our little family of three, and finally just me as the house sat old and empty…the raw bits that had been made into the family I had loved, and hated, and lost. They’d all simmered on that stove. Uncle Jason had been cooked in that oven, spooned up into Grandma by her own cooking hand. I’d been fried on the cast-iron skillets hanging on their old greasy hooks, served as strips of bacon and hash browns to Mom while she juggled legal briefs and a kicking zygote.

In that kitchen, we’d also had all the great blowups that my family had experienced. The dining room as for company, you see, and the family only saw its inside on Christmas and Easter. So that kitchen had seen Grandpa complain about his reflux until it had turned into a heart attack. It ad seen Grandma accuse us of conspiring to steal the house out from under her still-warm corpse (her words, not mine). Mom and Dad had gradually escalated their arguments to an apocalyptic level as I got older, the grumbles of my youth graduating to the shouting matches of my adolescence and the broken glasses of my high school years. They’d promised to sue for divorce there, divided up the goods there.

In that kitchen, Dad had slumped, listless, when I’d told him that boys weren’t for me and that my girlfriend was coming over. He’d passed away there, over a half-finished plate of eggs and hash, while I was in the big city trying to make a go of being a bohemian writer. And it was in that kitchen that Grace finally told me that she wouldn’t, and couldn’t, live the provincial life and on the provincial salary of a high school English teacher.

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