My Grandmother’s Knives

My grandma died a couple of years ago, she was 100 ½ years old and died peacefully at her own kitchen table. She sat down with a teapot full of tea and passed away before it was empty. When her things were being packed up I was asked if there was anything I wanted as a keepsake. As I thought about it I realised I wanted her knives because she held them in her hands every day. 

She was from a large Italian family and hers was a role defined by her ancestry. She cooked and fed her family and friends. She taught my mother and I and my children to make pasta, to make time consuming food which was slow and nourishing. 

Knives are the tools of the kitchen. Sharp and with different blades, they are the workhorses. And the wooden handles get dirty and worn, oiled over time with sweat and steam and specs of olive oil. I wanted the knives, not because they were forged in some exotic place, but because it was her hands that shaped the handles. 

I can fit my hands in those grooves and think about those who came before me. The traditions which are Italian and Basque, English and Scottish and which are reflected in the people we are today. We often remember once a year as dates come by but I like using her knives as a daily reminder that we have something to treasure from our past and something to forge in our days to carry on into the future. 

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