My aunt borrowed a pot from my mother and didn't return it for 60 years

Tracey Folly

*This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events as told to me by my mother, who experienced them firsthand; used with permission.

Before my mother cooked a single meal in the big pot, it was gone.

When my mother married my father, she became the owner of a set of pots and pans previously owned by my father's first wife. My mother had barely scrubbed her predecessor's fingerprints off the copper-bottom pans when my aunt announced she was taking home the largest pot.

"I just need to borrow this for a little while," my aunt announced, and just like that, my mother's newly acquired cooking pot was gone.

Days passed. Weeks passed. Months passed. Years passed.

Whenever my parents visited my aunt at their home, my mother saw the copper-bottom cooking pot atop my aunt's stove. More often than not, it contained soup or stew.

On the ride home, my father would mention the pot. "That looked like my pot on the stove again tonight," he'd say. "Did you see it?"

"I don't know what you're talking about," my mother would reply. She didn't want to get in any trouble for allowing the pot out of her sight in the first place. "It's just a pot," she said.

But my father was certain it was the same pot. "It has the same dent in the handle," he insisted.

My mother shrugged her shoulders and changed the subject.

The next time my parents visited my aunt, my father asked her about it.

"I'll give it back as soon as I'm done with it," my aunt said.

The pot became a running joke between my parents. They'd often speculate about what my aunt was cooking in "their" pot, and whether or not she'd ever return it.

As the years passed, my aunt became increasingly forgetful. My mother would gently remind her about the pot when they saw each other, and my aunt always insisted she'd return it "as soon as I'm done with it."

Eventually, my parents stopped talking about the pot altogether. It became a forgotten piece of their shared history.

My aunt passed away last year, and my parents finally got their pot back—sixty years after my aunt "borrowed" it. The pot was filled with soup.

My mother says she'll never use it again. Too many memories.

Borrowing without returning seemed to be a habit with my aunt. She once borrowed the metal drawer out of my parents' refrigerator and returned it nearly five decades later. Unfortunately, not long after my aunt reunited the drawer with my parents' fridge, the appliance broke and had to be replaced.

I suggested my parents keep the metal drawer, which had the word "meats" embossed on it, as a keepsake, but they decided it should go down with the ship.

"It's just a drawer," my mother said. "And we have too many keepsakes already."

My aunt was a funny lady. I think she would've gotten a kick out of the idea that her "borrowed" pot created such lasting memories for my parents. She was always good for a laugh—even if she forgot to return what she borrowed.

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