by Karen Holbrook
inspired by TBAWP’s 2020 Heritage Lunch
As I walk into the kitchen, I gaze over to my mom of 80 years preparing her special seven-layer salad that was passed down by her mother. My mind starts to drift as I watch her design each layer perfectly into her glass bowl. My family will be arriving soon and I look back at the salad layers and imagine that those layers represent the ones who will be arriving soon.
The lettuce is the foundation as my grandparents and parents are the foundation of this huge family. They had experienced many changes over their life span and they are the strands that have molded and kept us together. Mom’s hands move as though she is conducting an orchestra as she reaches for the crumble eggs. She pours the pieces and they bounce on the lettuce hitting the glass walls. This reminds me of the pain, anxiety, sorrow and death that has left some of us crumbled and broken. Finally, the eggs settle and rest on the bed of lettuce waiting for the next layer. The whiff of my mom’s perfume releases the sweet sense of the women in our family. Amazing mothers, they are tough on the outside although very tender and soft as you peel the layers back like the tomatoes, she adds on top the egg crumbles. The men in our family of course would be the layer of mayonnaise complimenting the layer of tomatoes. Without them we would not have that rich spicy flavor. They are strong, hard workers, slick talkers always making deals, romantics, and wonderful father figures. Next, the sweet peas are added like the 13 great grandchildren that come rushing into the house giggling, laughing, and making up games. Flowing behind them are the young adults whisking through the kitchen saying hello, giving kisses, somewhat interested in the cooking that’s happening but too preoccupied to stop and watch. They are the bacon layer, beautiful, young, strong making their way through the world while raising their own families. Crisp and juicy the bacon helps bring a pallet of flavor over the sweet peas.
Just as our family could not be complete without the pranksters, goof balls, and game lovers neither could the salad be complete without the cheese. While having fun with my family I can hardly wait to dig in and splash all the layers together. Some may call it chaos but we call it family.