Ode to a poached egg pan

by Karen Topakian

Though my paternal grandfather, Krikor Topakian, died in 1979, my memory of him lives on in a small pan in my kitchen cupboard. His poached egg pan.

My grandfather loved poached eggs. He ate them weekly for breakfast. Sandwiched between two pieces of buttered toast.

Recently, I’ve begun making those same sandwiches, which I call the Grampa K, in his same small battered pan.

Making and eating this meal instantly transports me to my childhood where I sat in my grandparent’s sunny kitchen nursing a bowl of slightly stale frosted flakes. Grampa K chewed his way through his egg sandwich. His false teeth squeaked with every bite. Stopping only to drink his cup of Postum.

I ate breakfast there with my sister on the mornings after we had spent the night. When my father would come to pick us up after breakfast, he would take out the trash for them or fix things that needed repairing.

My grandparents never had much trash. Just a plastic bag that held oranges or odd bits of paper. They ate well. Everything made from scratch, including yogurt.

My grandfather said repeatedly that someday America would drown in trash.

Grampa K wasn’t like my other grandfather, Grampa Charlie, also Armenian, of course. Grampa K didn’t work. Not since before I was born when he had his first heart attack. Fortunately, his wife, my grandmother, Grammy, worked in the family business, General Plating.

Instead of laboring in his wife’s business, Grampa K grew flowers in their house in Cranston. African Violets filled their windowsills and plant stands. Creamy white gardenia blossoms perfumed the air. His green thumb spread to his vegetable garden, which he tended by hand.

When he wasn’t growing flowers and vegetables he was volunteering for the Armenian Church and Armenian organizations. Or he was learning French on television.

Grampa K’s reading habits also occupied his time. Prevention magazine was a favorite. Along with Armenian history books.

While growing up, I didn’t think I was much like him. More like my grandmother but as I age I see more of myself in him. Reading about health, eating carefully, trying to create very little trash and of course, loving poached egg sandwiches.

Happy Father’s Day Grampa K.

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