Friday, November 1, 2013

Mixed Blessings

Last Friday when I called Mom to see if she wanted some homemade soup, she said, "No thanks, I'm making creamed beef with gravy. I was delighted that she had the energy to prepare a meal since she's been so tired lately. Whenever I call, I seem to wake her, although she denies that she was sleeping. "I'm just resting," she always tells me, "just lying here with my eyes open."

Saturday when I took them over the soup I'd promised, I noticed the vent hood of her stove had black scorch marks across the front that wouldn't come off when I tried to wipe it down with cleanser. "What happened here?" I asked.

Vent hood scorch marks
"Oh, that happened a couple of days ago," she told me.

I knew better, having been there Thursday to deliver their weekly groceries and some KFC for their dinner. I asked how they liked the chicken and whether she'd remembered to serve the cole slaw which I'd put in the refrigerator as it was too early to eat dinner. Nope. It was still in the fridge.

I returned to the issue of the scorch marks and asked her again what happened. She'd turned away from the frying pan (with it on High) while looking in the fridge. A huge fire had engulfed the ground meat while she wasn't looking. I was speechless for about two minutes while I sat and tried to think of what to say. This is my Mother, and yet I'm the one who's always lecturing. Finally I found the words.

"I'm just glad you are both okay," I told her. "Things could have been much worse," I said trying to keep the fear out of my voice.

The vent hood in the background
"Well, there are two doors to get out of," she informed me somewhat defensively. Thank the Lord that she'd reacted quickly and moved the pan into the nearby sink. Her words sent a cold shiver through me. I was proud of her quick thinking and yet . . .

With Louise in a wheelchair and Mom on a walker, it would take them too long to get out of the house if things had gotten worse; the stuff of nightmares. Just the week before, we'd had a major fire two blocks away which burned through the night. Last night, a special report on emergency preparedness in case of fire aired on the news and I thought about the Ladies across the street as I do often when I can't sleep.