My mixer died today. Just shy of its sixteenth birthday.
In the long run this was probably for the best; the poor thing has been on a slow downward spiral for years. First the gears began to go, leaving only two of eight speeds to pick from. Then the lock button stopped locking. The wire whisk bent, the plastic coating on the paddle began to peel, and the bowl wobbled. Even the pin that holds the head onto the neck stopped holding, sliding further and further out with each whip of the kneading hook. Every other day or so I had to ping the pin back in with a hammer. The poor thing was in sorry shape. But still, it's hard to let go.
Sure, we had some rough times. Like that one time, only a few months after arriving on our doorstep with the rest of our wedding gifts, the mixer was knocked off the counter by "someone" (still as yet unfingered) leaving the speed button twisted at a profoundly askew angle. It was poorly packed and hauled across country not once, but twice. It's been scrubbed and splattered, banged and dragged, and on more than one occasion blamed for something that simply was not its fault.
And then, of course, there is the issue of the bread.
This is the standard Stand Kitchenaid mixer, you see, for light household work only. Not the beefier Artisan Series, and definitely not recommended for heavy bread use. And yet here we were, nearly sixteen years and literally thousands of loaves later, and somehow I just assumed it would keep chugging along forever.
Which makes it all the more poetic that a batch of bread was what finally did it in. Today's mixing and kneading went off without any sign of distress. Afterward I lifted the head, detached the hook, scraped down the sides, and twisted off the bowl, setting the nicely formed ball of dough in the sun to rise. Later when I was cleaning off the stove my elbow bumped the Go lever and nothing Went. No whir, no sputter, no cry of pain. Just an long immobile silence.
One last batch, and a peaceful passage to the other side.
In the end that was probably the way it had always hoped to go.