Their Kentucky kitchens are only a short walk across the neighborhood yard from the front door of my memory, and every now and then I show up unannounced in the early morning for a plate of homemade love from their oven.
Back in the day during a long weekend when we visited Horse Cave, Ma-maw started breakfast before the roosters were barely awake, and the smells of her kitchen labors wafted where I slept, as a silent alarm to find my place at the breakfast table.
Dressed in her ruffled apron which wrapped around her grandmotherly self and tied into a beautiful bow in the back, I always smiled when I noticed her flour dusted pinafore because that meant recently rolled out biscuits were baking in a cured skillet.
A Kentucky visit wouldn’t be complete without spending the night at Aunt Alley and Uncle Condie’s Cave City home, a place capturing the character and ambiance of a bed and breakfast.
Mistaken as a few birds singing outside an opened kitchen window, was humming heard from my aunt dressed in an apron, frying up a skillet of country ham and eggs at her cast iron stove, and serving breakfast at a table already set and clothed in red gingham.
Homemade biscuits were a staple in the south, and Aunt Alleys by far, were the best. Maybe dipping both sides in hot bacon grease and baking them to a golden brown had something to do with it.
Although Uncle Condie, a carpet layer by day and bee-keeper at night, enhanced the flavor by teaching us to whip a small bowl of soft butter and his signature honey together and lather up a plate of Aunt Alley’s southern love.
Our uncles affection for bees was passed on down thru the generations.
It’s quite possible most modern kitchens don’t have a hidden drawer of aprons to pull out and wear while preparing meals.
Maybe the apron has lost its relevance as many busy lives now feed their families on-the-go.
Maybe I’m showing my age or love for crafts and matching hand sewn aprons worn in the kitchen.
Or maybe I still treasure what was passed on down thru the apron to me, the generations teaching the younger the art of cooking, and the bonds of community women find they desperately need by serving side by side.
There’s something about those handwritten recipes still retaining the greased fingerprints of our mothers, who found true joy making her families favorites while clothed in her apron.
One by one when our mother’s passed, we shared their recipes and choked at times our attempts to re-create her kitchen love, although somehow coming up short.
Nobody has ever made my mother ‘n laws potato salad like she did.
Our Nanny’s broccoli salad never tasted the same when we tried.
I’d give anything to have Bonnie’s Raspberry Pretzel dessert prepared from her hands.
My sisters and I have our personal version of mother’s holiday sweet potatoes, but none like moms.
But what we do have is what they passed on down thru their apron, those family memories from the stove to the table, with our mother’s as the centerpiece of it all.
Dads and brothers have also left their indelible hand-print around the BBQ grill and an apron. Father’s Day and summer events are picture perfect when the smell of ribs, chicken or burgers is barbecuing in the backyard, celebrating those wearing an apron.
Savor these moments while we have our grillers, and passed on down thru their apron is the reminder to intentionally find a reason to keep the charcoals hot.
My daughters have filled their scrapbooks full of memories and moments around the apron with the next generation in her children.
Passing onto their daughters and sons, they keep the spirit of Christmas alive through homemade cookies, and yes, wearing an apron.
As a grandmother I’ve stood and taught along side my grandchildren the art of making homemade biscuits and cookies also. Maybe not wearing an apron, but still passing on down thru the spirit of the apron, the love of being together in the kitchen, hoping they are retaining the smells of breakfast and all their favorites for future comfort and reminiscing.
Probably, the most profound memory passed on down thru the apron is that of a praying mother or grandmother.
There are those days I’m sure we all fall short, but God hovers close to hear the prayers of a mother or grandmother.
I find myself stirring up the heart of God as I stir the ingredients for dinner. I’m guilty of finding a corner for stillness in the presence of Jesus, but I pray for my family often while standing at my kitchen stove.
But desperate for a time of prayer, Susanna Wesley found a quiet place by lifting the skirt of her apron over her head, a sacred time Susanna’s children knew not to bother their mother.
Hidden in the pockets of family aprons are encouragement, wisdom, God’s truth and a mother’s love left behind for the next generation.
Whether it’s an apron, Bible, or anything unique from a mother to her daughters, sons and grandchildren, might it be passed on down so the families traditions continue.