Last night I used a spoonful of minced garlic for dinner. As soon as the garlic hit the hot skillet, I was taken back to the kitchen of the house I grew up in.
“Ok, alright. You’re leaving now? Ok, see you in a minute. Love you.” My mom hung up the phone and almost simultaneously opened the fridge and pulled out a jar of minced garlic. She started heating up the blue skillet with the wobbly handle, which I think was probably ceramic? I’m not sure, I just know the thing was probably older than I was. She pulled out the butter and generously put two or three tablespoons straight into the pan to melt. Then went in a spoonful or two of garlic. She stood there stirring it all around and around and hollered out “Girls, make sure the front of the house looks good. Daddy had a hard day!” I’m sure we reacted reluctantly. Then I came through the front study into the kitchen and saw my mom sautéing and staring into space.
“What’s for dinner?”
“I’m trying to decide.” My mom answered with her lips pressed together with her head tilted back, like when she is trying to remember something.
“But you’re cooking it now.” It seems like when a person is two steps into the cooking process, they know where they are going with it, right?
“Well I’m just heating up this garlic and butter so that it smells good.”
“Because Dad loves the smell of garlic and butter cooking when he comes home. It’s like a comfort smell or something. But he likes it so when he has a bad day, I do the garlic first and then I figure out what we are having with it.”
And that friends, was my first big lesson in marriage. That’s what love looks like over time. Love that lasts through triumph and trials knows when to heat up the garlic. I’m not sure if my dad ever knew that my mom did that. I’m not even sure if my mom realizes that she does it either. But every time I smell garlic slowly sautéing in a sea of butter, I think about my parents.