First, the GOOD news: The Tech Fairy has offered to help with getting the blog back to where it should be. Keep your fingers crossed and send love to him as he takes a look-see…
Now to the business at hand. We all know life is hard enough under the best of circumstances. Then, when funds are tight it gets to be even more difficult. Add to that the illness of a family member and it is dreadfully draconian.
When I was 10 my mother sustained a very serious compound fracture in her leg. Those were the “olden days” so she was hospitalized nearly two weeks and when she came home she was down flat, with her leg elevated, for 6 months. At the end of that time she had developed an infection so she spent 2 additional months on her back!
It did not deter her much. Mom was able to teach me a tap dance routine for an event she had planned as chairman for the March of Dimes. She also taught me, from her ‘nest’ on the the living room sofa, how to cook.
One of the things I learned at that time was how to make breakfast with no heavy lifting. I learned that you could put oatmeal, cream of rice or any hot cereal into a pan, using 1 part cereal and 3 parts water, a dash of salt. Cover it tightly and slide it into a cold oven. Turn the oven to warm and leave it overnight. In the morning there will be hot cereal and no one had to hurry to make it! You could add apples or raisins or cut up prunes or even canned peach pieces to jazz it up, too. So simple even a child can do it.
Another thing I learned about breakfast was to be organized. At that age, I took it for granted that when I came to the table to eat, everything we needed was there. I was 10 years old before I came to understand that those things did not appear by magic.
One morning, Mom decided to have a late breakfast after I had gone to school and Dad had gone to work. She hobbled to the table, grunting and struggling all the way, with her crutches and settled down for a dish of cold cereal. She managed to get the cereal and the bowl. She even prided herself on perking coffee and getting a cup full of that to the table. ***Remember – this was before Mr. Coffee made getting a dose of caffeine so easy! But when she finally sat down, totally exhausted, she realized there was no milk on the table and no spoon! She did what anyone else would do under those same circumstances. SHE CRIED.
That was my first clue that I could set the table the night before. *I was a quick study, even then. giggle
I also learned how to chop vegetables during that time. I would place a chair beside the sofa, where Mom would supervise. There was a side table there and I used her wooden cutting board and big knife! Mom talked me through peeling and chopping vegetables so I could put them onto the stove and cook them. We spent some top notch together times then…this business of Mom being laid up had some side benefits for both of us.
We lived in a small town back then and ladies brought casseroles and pies and home made rolls when Mom first came home from the hospital. But people had lives so those events went away quickly…we were on our own when it came to meal prep.
SIDEBAR: Whenever there is a crisis, keep in mind that a family’s needs go on even though people go back to their own ‘normal;’ keep your eyes peeled for the opportunity to be of service to them in the following month or so. END SIDEBAR.
We had a tiny fridge in those days and no freezer so Mom had me cook things we’d eat fairly soon. I could fry ground beef, use some for supper’s goulash and make spaghetti sauce for the next supper. Dad’s favorite was pork chops and ham and those are easy for even young children to work with….any kid can make a ham sandwich! We had home canned veggies and fruits from the summer before so shopping was a cinch. Dad worked downtown and could stop at the market on his way home from work. He and Mom figured out the list; Mom planned my “cooking lessons”…
It never would have occurred to us to buy ready-made meals, even if they had been available in those days. I do recall that on Mom and Dad’s wedding anniversary, Dad brought home a whole meal from the local cafe–including chocolate PIE. Having a restaurant meal at home was unthinkable back then!
Learning how to make gravy at age 10 has always served me well. Knowing how to plan for the amount of food necessary to feed 3 people now and have something for the next meal was great experience.
Desserts were a little out of my league (even now! grin) so ice cream became the dessert of choice, topped with fruits from the orchard that cared for us so well. Jellies, jams and canned fruits graced our table often and well.
One idea that I came up with to surprise my parents was that I thought we should use the good dishes and have the nicest table cloths. That was fun AND it created the opportunity to learn how to launder and iron! I remember how amused they both were the first time they were served a banquet of spaghetti and green beans on Mom’s best china, replete with grape juice in the crystal goblets!
We ate well and wisely; we grew much closer as a family; we shared two meals every day and three meals on the weekends. I learned domestic skills and we made memories to cherish for all time.
I regret that my mother had to suffer so as she recovered from her injury but I feel no sorrow when I consider all the good that came from the experience.
As a Post Script to this, I want to tell you that on the day that Mom returned to the surgeon who had placed steel pins in her leg and rods to keep them in place to have the “hardware” removed my dad played quite the stunt. He shut the bedroom door and we could hear him rustling around and chuckling. Finally, after what felt like an eternity, he burst through the door and THREW cash money all over, saying, “Let’s pay the doctor today! It’s ONLY MONEY.” Dad and I picked up all the money, giggling the whole time and he told me that it was a really big medical bill: Over $300.00. THOSE were the days!
So, if you are users of Public Assistance such as SNAP or WIC…if you have food from a food pantry or food bank or food commodities; fiddle/faddle – if you are just living on a dime, you can still live a high quality life–despite the chief cook and bottle washer’s being under par.
Our job here is to help you navigate those choppy waters. We fancy we are holding hands as we sail this journey called life!
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