The Memory of a Drain Strainer

Tonight, I was doing the dishes after the kids were in bed.  They were sleeping, Chris was working late, and the house was quiet.  As it often does in times like these, my mind drifted to thoughts of my dad while I mindlessly scrubbed pots and pans.

I remembered the first time he and my mom visited Chris and I after we moved to Connecticut.  We were newlyweds at the time, and were so excited to show them our apartment and the new life we were building.

I remember it was after dinner and my dad was doing the dishes for us because I had cooked.

“Where’s your sink strainer?” he asked, looking around for one to put in the kitchen sink drain.

“Oh,” I said absentmindedly as my mom and I talked at the kitchen table.  “We don’t use one.”

My dad stood there in total and complete shock.  He gave me this look like I had just sprouted three heads and offered him a cigarette.  I had grown up in a house that used a drain strainer.  How could I not use one?

“You don’t use one?” he said.  “What does that mean?”

I could see my mom cut her eyes over at Dad and give him that look that said, “Shut up, David…” and I knew that I was getting ready to rock my dad’s world.

“We just don’t use one,” I said casually.  “We don’t even have one.”


He stood there in complete silence, trying to fathom a kitchen with no drain strainer.

“Well, that’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard,” he said simply.

“DAVID!” my mom shouted, giving him THE LOOK that only 20-plus years of marriage can perfect.  “Katie’s married now with a house all her own.  She’s allowed to keep it however she wants.”

“Married or single, it doesn’t matter.  It’s still stupid,” grumbled my dad, and he turned back to finish doing the dishes.

A few days later, I got back from the airport where I had dropped my parents off for their flight home.  I went into the kitchen to start dinner and sitting in my sink drain was a bright and shiny new drain strainer.  I smiled and shook my head.  Only my dad…

Stories like that come to me often these days.  Small, insignificant stories that probably don’t mean anything to anyone other than me.  But they make me smile as I’m doing my dishes and they fill my heart with that unmistakable blend of joy and sadness that is synonymous with the loss of a profound loved one.

Tonight as I finished cleaning the kitchen and was about to flip the kitchen light off, I went back to the cabinet under our sink and pulled out an old drain strainer I remembered was sitting under there.  I carefully placed it in my sink drain and then smiled and shook my head.

Only my dad…


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19 Thoughts to “The Memory of a Drain Strainer”

  1. Alaina

    That is both incredibly sweet and so sad. He sounds like one amazing father. I love his bluntness, and I love that you kept that strainer to this day.

  2. jenniferlo

    Those are the best stories to remember. I love how our amazing minds always jump to the “insignificant” memories. Proof that the simple things can truly mean the most! Also, pictures of your dad make me tear up and I never even knew him, but one of the first posts I read of yours was about him and it’s what hooked me. He seemed like a man I’d just want to give a big hug to!

  3. I love it. It’s always the little things we miss the most.

  4. Grief is the strangest thing. We lost my stepdad on September 8th and I’ve been fine most of the time and then overcome by grief at the WEIRDEST moments. Thinking about carseats (he wanted carseats for the boys in his car), our house (he was helping us work on it), the movie First Wives Club (seriously the WEIRDEST thing…I saw it with my parents and was just overcome knowing I could HEAR him laugh when it was on one night recently). I’m really, really thankful for the moments, though, because they’re keeping him close. I don’t want to forget those things.

  5. Hilda

    He looks like he smiled a million times in his life. A happy man!

  6. Such a bittersweet memory of a man who clearly had an undeniable sparkle. It’s clearly visible in this story and his handsome grin.

  7. Lucia

    It’s the little memories of my grandfather that make me smile the most. *hugs*

  8. its little things like drain strainer memories that make up wonderful moments and moments become memories. enjoy your precious memory

  9. Beanie, Gracie & Tillman's Nana

    I wish I was at the point in my grief that I could remember my own sweet intimate moments with your dad, but even the simpliest reminder of these kinds of memories still sends me into a downward spiral of grief. I look foward to the day when I can smile when I think of small little times like this. After all, they made up 99% of our 32 years of marriage. I miss him so much every day.

    1. Kim

      You are exactly where you need to be in your grief process. It takes awhile, do what works for you. The first year after my Dad died, my Mom was just sad, the second year was better, then we blessed her with two grand children, it’s been 12 years, the sad is just different now. Our church offers something called Grief Share, maybe there’s something similar in your area at some point that might work for you. Blessings.

  10. Larry

    I have many small memories of Dave that I will never forget.biscuit and a beer at 6:30 a.m. driving down to The Villages,emergency hole after playing 36 holes in a day and many more.He was truly a great man a great friend.I miss him soo much.

  11. David

    Oh how I remembr some of Dave’s pronouncements. I can just imagine this and know it is classic Dave. We all miss him and probably always will. He was truely one of a kind and I feel so privileged that he passed through my life here.

  12. I love how memories like that one come to you, seemingly out of the blue. They are so heartwarming.

  13. Becky

    wonderful memories are hugs forever <3

  14. Hi Katie, this post caught my eye because I am a Fats, Oils, and Grease Coordinator. Part of my job is teaching people about proper disposal and what should and shouldn’t go in the sink to prevent sewer backups that lead to water contamination. We heavily push using sink strainers so that you don’t have to use your garbage disposal. Turns out dad’s always right. 😉 Here’s a link to our website:

  15. VICKY

    My dad passed away in June and I still am not ready to think about the little moments because it just hurts too much. Your dad reminds me so much of him- telling it like it is. Your dad would be so proud to know what a wonderful loving daughter he has. You certainly cherish him and keep his spirit alive with your writing.

  16. Kendra

    I loved this little story. How sweet and funny! You gave me a good laugh for today! Sound just like a good daddy! 🙂

  17. Cheryl

    Totally crying at my desk at work… which is never a good thing in a room full of secondary students who are test writing. Such beautiful memories 😉 Thanks for sharing. Big hugs to your mom too!

  18. Jess Z.

    I sometimes think that when we have such memories like this, that our loved ones are nearby. Whenever I think of something my mom did, or gave me, or my mind wanders while I’m doing some chore, I think they are nearby and that is why we think of them. They are hugging us with our memories.

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