“Please can I try it with a real egg?” she begged the other night.
“No,” I replied. I was tired and the likelihood of having to clean up an egg mess was unappealing.
“But, look,” she said, holding a green egg in one hand, “I can do it,” and she neatly opened the empty egg.
“No,” I said again. “Do it in the morning when I have more energy.”
“But I’m not going to make a mess,” she insisted. “And I’ll clean it up if I do.”
“No,” I said one last time.
The truth is I had gotten sad the day before when I was making waffles for my father. I had used the recipe my mother used to use.
Every time I do it, whether I’m using the separator, the shell, or my hand, I start thinking about my mom.
She taught me to cook — to level off the flour in the dry measuring cup, to get eye-level with the measuring cup when measuring liquids, and to crack the egg with a sharp rap using the back side of a knife. She taught me to pull the eggshell apart with my thumbs. She taught me to always put the egg into a separate dish before adding it to whatever I was cooking — we had our own chickens, and sometimes what came out of the egg was an unpleasant surprise. She taught me to get the last bit of white out of the shell with a quick swipe of my forefinger. She taught me to separate eggs, not allowing any yolk into the white because if I did the white couldn’t be beaten to stiff peaks no matter how hard I tried.
When her dementia robbed her of her cooking ability, she was so lost. No more cooking for a crowd. No more delicious soups where she put something akin to magic in the pot. No more casseroles.
Food was whittled down to marmalade. On everything.
But I can still eat marmalade.
There’s just something about eggs. They make me think of her.
An egg is both strong and fragile.
It is life.
An egg is three-in-one, like God.
But the word “egg” only appears once in the Bible.
Somehow, for me, an egg inextricably connects mother to daughter.
It is a mystery — a pearly, porcelain, alabaster mystery.
Today, I’ll let Laurel try cracking that egg with one hand. Success or failure, we’ll laugh and then figure out what to do with the eggs she opens.
Maybe someday she’ll look at an egg and think of me.