When I was a kid, most weekends my mom would pack all four of us kids in the car and drive to my grandparent’s farm in Arndahl, Minnesota. We would spend hours exploring outside, crafting groovy Barbie outfits out of grandma’s quilting scraps or shooting billiards with grandpa. No matter what grandma prepared for us it was always special and delicious, she was an amazing chef and baker. Maybe that is where my daughter Zoe inherited her mad baking skills. I treasured my time with Ben and Ev Swiggum, I knew my grandparents were very special. They were hard working, kind, generous, genuine and loving. My grandparents always seemed so smitten with each other, it was clear to me that they were madly in love. In the 1980’s my grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. The condition seemed to worsen slowly and then all at once. My grandfather was fighting cancer, and found he was unable to care for her. I can only imagine how painful it was for him to move her to a nursing home. He went to visit her every day, and each and every day he would bring her a small scored piece of chocolate from a Hershey bar. He was sure that she knew he would always return with a sweet treat for her.
In 1989 my grandpa lost his battle with cancer. When I was helping my mom and my aunt pack up their house I took home a few things that reminded me of the farm, some chipped up fiesta wear, a night stand that always fascinated me. I found a spoon in a box on a dusty shelf in the basement. It was quite sturdy, made of stainless steel with a simple wooden handle. A Scandinavian design maybe? I think the spoon remained in that box until Jon and I moved into our house in 1994. Surely this spoon was for a special occasion since my lovely grandmother Evelyn had left it safely tucked into its box for so many years.
Right around the turn of the century I started making soap and I figured out that grandma’s spoon was the perfect tool to use scooping vegetable oils from buckets to my soap pot. I have made hundreds of batches of soap with the help of grandma’s spoon. The spoon has been used so much in fact that the wooden handle began to splinter. Jon took some time to sand down the handle a bit and freshen up this gem of a tool and I’m sure it will serve me well for years to come. Maybe it’s because I have been feeling so melancholy lately but I like to think that before my grandmother’s disease took her from us she stowed this special spoon away knowing that someone she loved would find a useful purpose for it someday. I think of grandma Swiggum when I use her spoon and feel grateful and certain that her beautiful spirit is a special ingredient in our products.