The Milk container

It has been an interesting year. Before the world shut down, I was researching and interviewing animal advocates, learning and intending to write all the information I gathered.

Before the world shut down, I was trying to get my business going, teaching kid’s yoga and educating about Mother Nature.

Before the world shut down, I was living my vegan life, creating new meals and finding my quick “go-to” frozen nuggets, crab cakes and fish filets.

And all this time, as I was researching and interviewing, teaching and educating and creating and finding, the milk container sat in the corner of my kitchen.

What does a milk container have to do with anything you ask? Surprising to me, a lot.

Every time I look at it, I feel guilt. Guilt over the fact that my grandparents raised cattle and used this milk container. And now knowing what I know, all I see when I look at this milk container is a crying Mother and a terrified baby. The screams of a newborn child not knowing why it’s mother isn’t there, not understanding why it’s life is so full of pain.

I realize that they were farmers. They raised cattle after the war and pigs I think? Maybe chickens too, I don’t know for sure. They fed their family with food they raised themselves. They were kind and loving grandparents, giving me some of the happiest memories of my entire childhood.

Despite them being such positive influences in my life, there is still this milk container that is a physical connection to them. Them, the positive memory. And the container sitting in my kitchen, a negative connection.

I’ve wrestled with this knowledge and reached out to vegan groups, asking opinions about keeping the container or donating it to a heritage site. The responses were numerous, more than I expected to be honest. Almost 4 dozen people chimed in, each expressing their thoughts as I had asked. To my surprise, most all of them said to keep it! One comment in particular made a compelling argument for keeping it. This person asked if I was going to throw out all my knives and pans, pots and plates?

This question made me think. Yes, this person was right! I’m not going to throw out my dishes and cutlery even though they had been used for meat before I became vegan and are still being used to cook my husband’s food. That would be silly and a waste.

But the milk container still bothers me. It’s in perfect condition, no dents or scuffs. The number clearly painted on, although I admit I forget it’s significance. It sits perfectly in the corner, holding stories of a life lived long ago. A completely different time it was, my grandparents time.

And that’s the point I wonder, or is it?

Times are changing. I have changed.

I have been told that I am empathically connected to animals. Yes, I realize this sounds odd to some and that’s ok. I know only a few people who understand. I literally feel immense sadness when I see pain inflicted upon animals, or read how they have been tortured. I sob uncontrollably, feel sick, scared and such grief seeing these images and imaging the horror and suffering these sweet lives endured.

I know humans couldn’t live through these tortures, chained from birth to death and worse. Yes, there is worse. I’m not going to be descriptive as it is later in the evening as I write this and I am not going to conjure images and memories of what I have seen. If I do, I won’t be able to sleep.

So, my dilemma of the milk container, the purpose for this post. Do I keep a memory from my grandparents time here on earth, one of only a few possessions I have from them? Do I keep something that is a constant physical reminder of what happened and is still happening for so many loving and caring beings? Do I keep something that makes me feel guilt and sadness every time I look in the kitchen, which is hourly as we essentially have an open concept main floor?

Or do I donate this archaic piece of history to a heritage site where others can see what it was like eighty years ago? And is still.

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