HealthCare Resources Blog

In Appreciation of What I Don’t Have

Posted in Reflections by Pam on June 14, 2010
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I am so envious of people who can cook. They take a bunch of ingredients, add their special touch and whip up something that, when in your mouth, becomes the equivalent of magic as it dances across the taste buds. When I try, it becomes the equivalent of hell in your mouth as one tries to scrape it off the tongue.  I have many friends who own this talent. Hnoi, Dolores, Nina, Kathy, Liana, Brenda, Seth, Robin and many others. Including my son. I have no clue where he received this gift because it most certainly was not from his parents. His father never even made a pot of coffee. And me, his loving mother raised him pretty much on hot dogs and macaroni and cheese (definitely the kind from a box).

When he was in the first grade, his teacher decided that she would have her students dictate to her the recipes (as they viewed them) of their mother’s special dishes, bind them in a book and present them to the moms on Mother’s Day.  The special day arrived and Joey proudly handed me this brightly decorated “book”.  Thrilled, but wary, I read through the recipes that ranged from pages of lengthy descriptions of how Mom would make dough, roll it out, make fancy pies to one mother beginning early in the morning making a secret spaghetti sauce. Since our last name begins with “T”, it was towards the back of the book. At first glance, I saw it was quite short. It said: “First my mom opens the cupboard. She takes the can out of the cupboard. She opens the can. She pours it in a pot. She heats it up. Wah-Lah! We eat!”

I was mortified, and rather than being appreciative that my little boy was honest, I said to him “What? Why didn’t you write that I work 12 hour night shifts?” Thus, the beginning of what we still, to this day, call at our house “Wah-Lah Food”. I must say that I wield a mean can opener. I can set the microwave without even putting my glasses on.  I can spread mayo on bread with the best of them. My dreams of quality time in the kitchen with my grandchildren have turned in to quality time at McDonalds.

Last weekend I decided it was time to eat more protein. Throwing two chicken breasts in to a pot of water, I figured I could shred the chicken and use it over a couple of days for chicken salad, chicken quesadillas or even a chicken-pasta dish. (I am such a dreamer.) Turning up the flame on my beautiful, large gas stove (which by the way probably could not figure out what was up since it is rarely turned on), I sat down to work at my computer in my home office at the front of the house. Approximately two hours later black smoke began sifting in to the front of the house. You guessed it. I forgot the “boiling” chicken.

Running in to the kitchen which was thick with haze, I turned off the flame (thinking damn! I have wasted all that gas!) and found two very shriveled chicken breasts charred and permanently attached to the bottom of a completely dry pot. Try as I might, I could not detach the meat from the metal. After it all cooled off, I wrapped up the pan in about 10 plastic bags, snuck out the front door and left it for the garbage men to pick up. The smell was horrendous and has lingered for days. Two cans of Lysol, a packet of incense and an apple-pie scented candle (like I would actually bake an apple pie) the odor is gone. But the memory lingers. It has reminded me to accept the things we cannot change…you know how the saying goes.

At my age, I figure by now I should have some kind of talent. I can’t sing, I can’t play an instrument, I can’t cook, I can’t knit or crochet and I can’t make cute little purses out of scraps of material like my daughter in law can. (Did I tell you I bought a top-line sewing machine, and after not being able to figure out how to thread it, I gave it to her?)

All of this does not depress me. I don’t have time to do those things anyway. I can do other things, and that makes me happy! I admire those that have a special talent, regardless of what it is. Celebrate those talents, be proud of what you can do, show off! You deserve it! In the meantime, to my friends listed above who can cook, keep on doing it because otherwise, I might starve.

I leave you with this:

“When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left and could say, ‘I used everything you gave me.’”

~ Erma Bombeck


11 Responses to 'In Appreciation of What I Don’t Have'

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  1. Cyndee said,

    I loved this as I do all of your writings. You do have many, many talents, and one can always buy food!

  2. Glee!!! said,

    You have many talents Pam – look at all you do, for all of us, on a daily basis. While I love to cook and bake, too I could not keep up with all that you do. Let’s all continue to do what we do best and enjoy the journey!

  3. Kathryn Hardin said,

    One of your many talents, my friend, is as a comedy writer!

  4. Pam said,

    Ah – thank you all!

  5. Andrea said,

    Pam, a great piece you wrote! I loved it! Next time you burn something, just fill the pan with water and mix a a few tablespoons of baking soda, bring to a boil, and let it stand…an hour, or overnight. The burned stuff should come right off with a sponge. If some stuff is still stuck, repeat. And Pam, while you’re waiting for the water to boil, STAY IN FRONT OF THE STOVE…ha ha, or else set your kitchen timer for 5 minutes. Oh yeah, I’ve read you can also do this using vinegar, but I always use baking soda.

  6. Barbara said,

    Love your writing Pam… you writing always brings a smile to my face. Unlike the dreadful writing of Consuelo in the Tribune. Shall be looking to more of this.
    One talented lady who we all turn to in times of trouble….

    • Pamela said,

      Oh – thank you so much!!!!!

  7. Pam, your talents are remarkable.

  8. Pamela said,

    Thanks Nella!

  9. barby said,

    Just discovered your blog. It, like you, is fantastic. You were such a help to us when my husband had emergency gall bladder surgery in the Cornerstone Hospital two years ago. He recovered quickly and his doctor here was more than pleased with the work done on him in PV. We rant and rave about Cornerstone Hospital and its doctors to anyone who will listen and make sure all our friends who travel have adequate insurance in case of emergencies. I am a seasoned cook who recently had a small grease fire in her kitchen because I was not paying close enough attention. Now whenever the stove is on so is the timer – a portable one which goes with me to the computer in case I get carried away on somebodies blog and forget I left the stove on. Keep up the good work in your help to all of us re our medical issues and how to negotiate the system in PV, your wonderful charity work and just your lovely personality generally. I am happy to know you. /barby

  10. Pamela said,

    Barby, thank you!!!! I’ll remember the timer thing – the NEXT time I cook (which is pretty rare!)

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