Monday, June 4, 2012

Roast Fingers - It's What's For Dinner!

Just about 35 years ago, a few weeks before I got married, I was making a "congratulations to us" dinner for my two best friends, Jann and Diane, and me as we were about to get our Master of Fine Arts degrees from the University of Minnesota. Veal Piccata was on the menu and I was happily sauteing the veal when it spattered...catching me on the inside of the wrist. By the next morning it was pretty clear it was pretty bad and Steve dragged me to the health service where my second degree burn was duly popped, cleansed, creamed, and bandaged. 

The next day I left for New York and first on the agenda was a wedding dress fitting. When  the nice ladies were helping me with my sleeve buttons, they noticed the thick bandage cuff. Oh, did they look at me with alarm! No, I explained, it wasn't that; it was grease. I'm not sure they believed me, but they treated me with kid gloves for the rest of the fitting. 

The morning after our wedding, Steve and I returned to the family manse for the requisite "out-of-towners" brunch, and my brand new hubby asked me to touch up his shirt since it had been squashed in the suitcase. Not wanting to bother with the big board that routinely ate my fingers, I put the little one on the floor of the den, started ironing with mom's heavy ol' 1940s behemoth...and promptly ironed my ankle. Steve insisted this was my way of proving I couldn't handle anything hot; my ironing days were, for a very long time, over. 

If Steve were here, he could tell you the story of my kitchen life by narrating the burn scars on my hands, arms, and even the one ankle. Let's suffice it to say there is always a supply of burn pads and a bottle of "New Skin" in the kitchen cupboard. If I had a buck for each "when are you gonna figure out yer hands are NOT made of asbestos?" conversations we had over the years, I'd be a very rich woman.

Well, this is one of those weeks when missing Steve is front and center. The counting of the omer is over, and then it's nine days to his yahrzeit. In shul on Shabbat, I went up for the 8th aliyah, the one for those marking a yahrzeit in the week to come. I happen to share this aliyah with several good friends who lost close relatives this same week, and they literally had my back... and kept me upright. Time seems to have passed in a flash, yet it seems forever since I held his hand in mine. Someone once told me that's the rubberband effect. Whatever.

So even for being a bit disconnected and distracted, I managed to mow the lawn, do laundry, and check off the rest of my usual Sunday stuff. I opted to make the easiest dinner possible:  a London broil on the grill. Moving between the rice on the stove and the steak, I was clearly on autopilot. At one point, I went out, raised the lid and turned the steak. There was a helicopter doing a flyby over the pond, so I was watching it, not my hand, and instead of grabbing the handle, I grabbed the lid.

Looking good...but hurting a lot
OWIE OWIE OWIE!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I scampered in the house and ran the faucet full blast cold on my fried fingertips. The wrap-able ice pack was right in its place in the freezer (Steve gave it its very own permanent position so I would always know where to find it) and I wrapped it around my hand. Seems most of the damage was mitigated by swift action...born out of practice as much as screaming pain. And there, my hand encased in ice pack, I could hear him: "JESUS H. CHRIST ON ROLLER SKATES, SUE! Could you possibly watch what you're doing ???????????????"

And suddenly I didn't feel the fingers so much. 

Looking down on me
It might sound silly, but it was the sound of his voice in my head that made me stop. It was as if I needed to hear him chide me about not paying closer attention to what I was doing. I wanted to hear him say, "Unscrew you hand and give it to me," as he dragged me to the closest natural light source. "Aw, you'll live," he would say as he would start cutting the burn pad into appropriately sized pieces. And then he would grumble, "Cheap way to get me to do the dishes," with a silly, lopsided grin...even though he would've done them anyway.

Tuesday night I will light a yahrzeit candle, and the boys will each light one in their homes. We really don't need the candle to remember that he left us 3 years ago on the 16th day of Sivan. But for 24 hours, there will be little flickers reminding anyone who happens to see them that he was here. And he is missed.

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
Remember to say hello to widows once in a while;
no one likes to be invisible all of the time. 


  1. Beautiful post Susan. Really beautiful.

    Be sure to make your boys mow the lawn in the future.

    1. Uh, not happening. No one gets between me and my John Deere!

      Wahoo!Ride 'em, Lawn Girl!

  2. Susan,

    You keep Steve's memory alive so beautifully.

    I'll be thinking of you,


  3. Lovely piece, Susan. Wishing you an 'easy' yahtzeit.
    Remember - no butter on burns!
    I learned a new word today - manse!

    1. Glowy, butter is definitely a no-no in burnsville! (that was a local joke.) It's ice, ice, and more ice. And actually, it does mitigate the damage. I only have 3 blisters today!

  4. Suz

    This one got me...................quite the lump in my throat. Love you Di

    1. The Wifely PersonJune 4, 2012 at 7:25 PM

      Love youse guys right back!

      miss you all!

    2. ps: to this day, i cannot make veal piccata without laughing.

  5. "...But for 24 hours, there will be little flickers reminding anyone who happens to see them that he was here. And he is missed..."

    Whew! The first time I read that sentence I gotta admit that I did not read it as "little flickers", especially since the "l" and the "i" were kinda squished together on my computer. Glad the re-read revealed more clarity -- cause for a moment I thought you were referring to your sons. (Now I can say "thanks for the very nice post".)

  6. Great post! I was cringing each time I read of another burn.

    I have found soaking the burn in cold water to be more effective than putting ice on it. It is less tough on the non-burned skin and hydrates the wound.

    May the neshama have an aliyah.


    PS. - Saw your comment at Divest This!

    1. Water first to stop the cooking! But these flexible ice packs Steve found for me are great. They really keep it cool without that ice-burn feeling. It's surprisingly soothing.

      May his neshama have a aliyah. He does have his tallit with him, y'know.

  7. Nice post, Susan, and as always wonderfully written. (now for my wisecracking comment).. but, for the love of st. elmo, let someone ELSE light that candle!

    1. Thank you, Toonguy! Not to worry...the candle is already lit and I used a single safety match. I still think yer funny.