Once upon a time a dear, elderly missionary lady sent a box of kitchen things my way. Included in the box was a square, divided cast iron skillet. It was a little rusty, but I oiled it up and set it aside. At that time a family from our work in Fortaleza was living on the island. The wife had not brought all of her dishes, pots and pans along in their move. She asked if perhaps I had a couple of old pans or pots that she could use. Since she was going to be using a typical Brazilian style wood cook stove, I thought the heavy, iron pan might be a good thing to let her have. So, being the good, little, helpful missionary woman that I am, I gladly gave up the cute, little square griddle and sent it on its way to the island along with a super-nifty round skillet that was just right for making tapioca pancakes. It was heavy, but not iron.
Once upon a time, I sat on the back porch of the caretaker's house on the island and spotted an old, rusty, square pan leaning up against the back fence. It was obviously thrown out and not wanted. I wondered if it could possibly be that old iron skillet from long ago. It had been about three years, almost four since the day I had given it to a friend. As I sat there on the stoop of the porch, I felt all the emotions of the departure of our friends, the rejection, the pain, the misunderstanding. You see, they left with little warning and a lot of confusion. And now what was that special pan doing there in the dirt? Why had it been left? Why did no one want it or care about it? It was like little old me had been thrown out in the dirt. I went home that day without making any comments about the pan.
Once upon another time, I was back on the island. I went out the back door and found the pan. I looked at it and I knew it was the same one from long ago. I put it down gingerly and went back in the house. I found the lady of the house, the new lady. She was actually the second caretaker's wife since the original recipient of the gift. So you see the little skillet had passed through several hands. As I drank sweet black coffee seated at this caretaker's table, I decided the time was good. I casually asked if the little square pan thrown against the back fence was hers. She said, What pan? I said, Come and look. She said, Oh, that! It was here when I moved in. It's no good, all rusty. So I told the old lady my tale and said I was reclaiming the pan unless she really wanted it. She nonchantly said, Do what you want. And so I did.
The old skillet found a home in the bottom of my cupboard after I tried cleaning it up and didn't have very good success. It was still rather rusty. No telling how long it had been living outside by a fence. I oiled it up and wrapped it inside a plastic bag and now it was sitting inside. Loved and safe, but not used.
Fast forward a little, Granddaddy arrives from Virginia. Ah, a man who knows about cast iron! One day I pulled it out to show my Daddy and asked him what he thought. He seemed to think there was hope and went to work. Soon I had a fine looking skillet on top of my stove and now I'm using it at least twice a week. It's loved and being gently used.
You traveled from house to house and all around.
You ended up thrown out on the ground.
Unloved, unwanted, unused with no one to care.
Unclean, unhappy with no family to share.
Then you were found and brought in from the cold.
You were dusty and a little old.
But we washed you up and shined your iron cast.
Now you're cooking and home at last!
You know, Daddy. Every time you come to visit me in Brazil you fix something. This time, you may very well have fixed some hearts. Thank you for coming and for all the fixing!