This is the first time in my life I can order my mom around, and she has to listen!
She sits on the couch, back against the long floral armrest, head against an added pillow, legs straight in front of her on the rest of the couch, more pillows raising her feet.
“But,” she protests, “I know where the butter is, and the pan to grill the bread, and don’t use the new tomatoes, use the ones in the vegetable bin, and I’m not sure if the cheddar cheese is on the left side of the refrigerator, or the bottom shelf, and…”
“Stop!” I command. “I can figure it out.”
I’m not a kid any more. In fact, I’ve raised children, now adults, who thrived on my cooking, but my mom still thinks I can’t make a grilled cheese sandwich without her help.
I take a deep breath and look at her sternly but lovingly. “You need to keep your feet up right now. You’ve just had surgery. I have taken a five-hour train trip to stay with you and wait on you. So sit down and enjoy it!” I leave the room with a smirk on my face.
Of course, five minutes later I’m cursing under my breath. Where the hell does she store her pans? Her apartment is small, her kitchen as tiny as an elf’s, and it has already taken me 4 minutes, 38 seconds to find a knife to cut the cheese and a spatula.
No pan = no grilled cheese sandwiches, so I open more cabinets and grit my teeth.
“The bottom of the stove,” mom shouts from the living room.
I open the drawer below the oven, seemingly hidden until now, and sweetly shout out, “got it!” Why she couldn’t have told me that in the first place? I whistle happily as I slice and melt the butter in the pan.
“Don’t use oil or that spray stuff, butter works best!” she suggests unnecessarily.
I walk briskly back into the living room. Tennis is on the T.V. “Thirty-love,” the commentator whispers excitedly. Yup, I think, it’s 30-0 right here, in this little apartment, and I’m the one not getting my serves in.
“Mom, luv,” I begin.
She looks up at me innocently. I walk over and fluff up the pillows behind her, check her water class. It could use more ice. “Yes?” she asks. “Do you need any help?”
“Not at all!” I answer. I pick up her glass and announce. “You need more water. Ten glasses a day – at least!” I bounce back to the kitchen and notice that the butter is turning brown. Whoops. As I add more ice to her glass, I throw some slices of bread in the pan. Race the ice water back to mom and her tray, then race back to the kitchen. Now the bread is turning brown, and I haven’t added the cheese yet.
“Damn,” I shout out.
Two seconds later, I hear the clip clip clip of her walker, and she is standing beside me, clucking and reaching out for the cheese, the butter, the tomato. In a span of three minutes, the smells of a toasty warm grilled cheese and tomato sandwich is wafting through the small three-room apartment.
“Yum!” she says, turning off the stove top. “Sit down and I’ll fix you a glass of diet coke. I’m starving, aren’t you?”
As she arranges a dish on her walker tray and sashays back toward the couch, I admit defeat, but also realize a cheery thought.
She’s healing quite well, much faster than the doctor’s prediction.