I w0ke up to a bang. I listened to hear what it may have been. The banging continued. It was familiar. I heard a tap run every once in a while and doors bang closed. “Got it!” I said to myself. Grandma was doing the dishes.
It seems the family has fallen into patterns over the past year that I have been off. Part of those patterns involving Grandma and I are that I cook, Grandma does dishes. That works quite well, except that there are a lot of dishes. I typically do morning and afternoon dishes as I go – and Grandma does the dinner dishes – those that are not captured by the dishwasher. As her eyesight has diminished, though, we have all come to do a quick scan of our cooking gear before using it as there may sometimes be – well – a few particles of food left behind. We would never bring it up as an issue because we all admire her spirit and commitment to helping out.
We love Grandma. She is part of our family. She lives in our home in a spacious apartment in our basement. We decked it out with a kitchen (minus a stove), a beautiful little fireplace for her to snuggle up to in the winter and a guest room for when she has overnight company. We don’t usually see her during the morning rush for school and work. She is retired and well, why not sleep in when you can? I then head out to fitness and she heads out for a walk with the dog. While I do chores, Grandma will head downstairs to watch some news or, if it is nice, she will sit on the front porch and watch the people walk by. Jazz sits beside her and sniffs the air as though she can eat whatever smell wafts her way. Jazz has a voracious appetite that is sometimes catered to by – Grandma. Grandma is Jazz’s best friend at meal time.
This morning, things are different. I went back to sleep before doing dishes. Which means I left the roast beef bone and grease in the pan. On the stove. I was going to make soup stock. Delicious soup stock. Home made. A good batch of fried onions – purchased only yesterday – were destined for that stock. Without the stock, there would be no soup. Without the bone, there would be no stock. Was the banging I heard – that pan being washed?
My heart raced. I had stock attack. Would Grandma be washing “that pan”? That pan with the roast beef grease and bone? Was she? The loud bang would only have been made by a large object – and the only large object in the kitchen sat on the stove with a bone in it. It was a large bang all right. It continued. Then all stopped. I listened. I heard nothing. Then – feet. She was putting the dishes away. I heard plates, cutlery… and the sound of the frying pan drawer opening and closing. That pan is cast iron. It has a distinctive sound. Was that the noise? What do I do? I cannot rush down and yell, “Stop!”. I just can’t. I would only serve to make her feel bad.
Here I remain. Glued to the bed, wondering if she really washed that pan? What will I do with myself if there is no stock to be made, no onions to be cut, no soup to be made? Is this what my life has come to? Do I venture downstairs? There is no longer a sound. She has gone to her apartment to catch up with the morning news. What will I find? I remind myself to stay calm – to accept the fate which awaits. No pot on the stove means no dishes, although I’ll likely have to give them a one-over for inspection. Good. No dishes. Right?
Ahhhh. Inner struggle. “Stacey, it’s only a bone.”
A memory floods back. On her death -bed, I asked my Mom if there was anything she needed – or wanted me to do for her? “There is a lovely prime-rib roast in the freezer, Stacey”, she stated. “Please cook it.” What??? Seriously? At the time I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or to cry. Who asks someone to cook a roast when they are departing this world. Then it hit me – could I be more like my Mom than I had imagined? Do I have this “obsession” with food too? Why were my first thoughts when waking from my slumber – to save the roasting pan? I am my Mother’s daughter. That’s not a bad thing – in fact – that’s a good thing. She was a wonderful mother, wife, and Nanna. Not to mention a fantastic nurse, seamstress, and cook. I could go on… but something continues to nag at me…
“Did she wash the pan?”