The Last Jar

My mom brought me a bunch of homemade jam recently. Delicious, tangy, fresh-from- her- garden strawberry jam (ahahaha you store-buying bastards).

I was reminded of different jars of home canned goods.  As a kid, I was always in the way during canning time. My mom, grandma, and aunt would be stirring, gossiping, and usually arguing when they would inevitably trip over me.  I was curious, and usually trying to convince my grandma to slip me some of whatever she was canning.

My grandma was a big, tough old woman with a lazy eye and no regard for traffic laws. She also had no hair on her arms or legs from so much time spent in front of the stove. She could pull out cookie sheets with her bare hands. She also loved to try to tame the wildest of feral cats. Eventually they would all fall under her cat-lady spell. From her, I learned to be fearless with cats. I also learned how to hide cigarettes, swear, and truly care for other people. She  was always cooking for her family and community. She canned tons of vegetables.

She died of cancer when I was seven.

Almost a year and a half after her funeral, we were eating at her house (which was by then my aunt’s), when my aunt brought out some sweet pickles. She put a bunch of pickles on each person’s plate, and announced that the jar was the last jar. The final jar that my grandma had canned. The last time we would taste something she had made.  So many times we had eaten her food without marveling at its flavour.

I never threw one of the pickles away. It is a shriveled old thing that I have held onto for the past 13 or so years.

I couldn’t let go of the last thing she made with love for me.

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