"Mimi, did you burn something in the kitchen?" Bonnie asked as she stuck her head in the living room.
"No, why; what are you talking about? I baked a cake and I have some home-made soup simmering on the stove."
I put my laptop down, got up from the couch, and headed back to the kitchen I had left 15 minutes earlier after spending several hours preparing tonight’s dinner.
Entering the kitchen, I nearly stumbled over the floor fan that was whirring busily in the middle of the floor and felt the blast of cold air blowing in from the opened door of the kitchen.
"What’s going on?" I asked.
"We’re trying to air out the kitchen from the burnt smell."
"What burnt smell? I don’t smell anything," I replied as I walked over and lifted the lid from the big pot of soup simmering on the stove. Taking the big spoon ladle from the counter, I dipped it into the soup and stirred slightly.
Whoops, I thought, as the spoon touched the bottom and I realized it did, in fact, have a layer of food stuck to the bottom. I grabbed a small bowl and dished up a big spoonful into it.
"Tastes fine; the pot is just burned on the bottom," I replied. "We can just pour the soup off into another pot and leave the scorched bottom to soak."
I had scorched the bottom of the pot making soups and sauces a few times in my life. No big deal.
Bonnie and Mike exchanged perplexed looks.
* * * * *I’d spent the night at Jake and Bev’s (son and D-I-L) and we had discussed the menu the night before. I would go to Krogers the next morning (today) and buy everything to make chicken/vegetable/rice soup and then stir up a single layer chocolate cake with cream cheese icing. Mmmmmm, just the right thing for this sudden turn of cold weather we were having.
Unbeknownst to Jake, this was going to be an early birthday surprise dinner. As far as he knew while we were making these plans on Wedneday night, however, tomorrow’s dinner was just a regular Thursday night with kids popping in and out and, oh, isn’t it great that mom decided to stay over and cook homemade soup the next day.
Bev had left the list of food to buy when she left for work the next morning and I bundled and trundled over to Krogers. Once home, I started my chopping and dicing and stirring and simmering and baking.
I had chopped up bite-size chicken pieces and dropped them and three cans of broth into the big pot and once it got simmering, added the other ingredients as I got them chopped. Switching the burner from "Med" to "Lo" once each ingredient began to simmer. Then turned the burner to one notch above "Lo". I thought.
Then I mixed up the cake and baked it. It was now cooling on the counter.
Finally, around 2 p.m., my cooking chores complete, I headed for the living room and my Lap Top to connect with Cyperspace once more.
* * * * *Bonnie and Mike (her boyfriend) continued their clean up activities (Bev had asked them to stop by and straighten up the house before our special dinner that evening). Then they left.
Once they were gone, I closed the kitchen door to the outdoors, turned off the floor fan, and put it away. And returned to the living room to check e-mail once again.
Less than an hour after Bonnie and Mike left, Bev got home from work. She commented on the smell. I explained what had happened. She dipped a spoon into the soup.
"Oh, Mom, it’s burned, really burned. I can taste it."
"Oh, no, please. Are you sure? I tasted it. I didn’t taste anything burned or scorched. It tasted delicious to me."
"No, Mom, really; I’m sorry, but it’s burned. Really."
About that time, Jake arrived home. He noticed the ‘burned smell’ as he entered the house. We filled him in on the conversation. Of course he grabbed a spoon, as well, for his own taste test.
"Yep; it’s burnt, Mom. I mean, really burnt."
"I just can’t believe this. I don’t understand. I put the burner on one notch above "Lo" and it has been simmering for a couple of hours."
Bev and Jake both hugged me because I was beginning to tear up.
"It’s okay, mom; really. This stove is funny. It cooks hotter than you think. Really, it’s okay. We’ll order pizza. No big deal."
But it was. A big deal. To me. I had wanted to make a delicious home-made soup; a special home-made dinner for my son. For his surprise birthday.
Maybe it will be a funny story . . . some day.
But not today.
* * * *There is a happy ending to the story, however In fact, a very special wonderful ending.
It goes like this –
Jake loves cameras and photography and takes pictures wherever he goes. Some of his equipment has been broken or not working properly for some time and he comes home from work and searches online and studies books on cameras and photography. Relaxes in bed looking and studying. Almost every night.
Bev had wanted to surprise him this year with this special camera he wanted. But they didn’t really have the money. A few weeks ago she was talking with Skyler, one of Jeff’s close friends, who had become like another family member. (Jeff is Bev’s son from first marriage). Sky now works at the Sheriff’s Dept. He stopped by recently, as usual, and Bev mentioned she had an old antique gun her father had given her. She showed it to Sky. He said he wanted to buy it. Even though it was a $500 gun.
Bev was thrilled; this could go towards the camera. Maybe she could scrape up enough money after all.
Unfortunately, a few days later, Sky called to say he couldn’t afford to buy it now, after all.
Jeff just happened to be there that day and when Bev hung up the call, she explained to Jeff what she had hoped to do.
"Let’s just pray about this, Mom." Let’s just ask God to some how – some way – provide the money so you can get this for Jake."
So they held hands and prayed. And Jeff left.
About 20 minutes later, Jeff called. "Mom, mom," he was almost shouting, "you’re not gonna believe this. Guess who just called me."
"Okay . . . who?"
"Dad. Dad called. And he’s sending you a check for $2700 for the back child support."
"OHMYGOSH, Jeff! That is amazing. It’s more than amazing. It’s a miracle."
(Need to explain here that Phil, Jeff’s dad, has not worked in two years and so has been unable to pay his Child Support.).
Bev purchased the camera with all the proper attachments. It cost $3000.
* * * * *After our v - e - r - y special dinner last night, with all the kids and me and Bev’s mom present, Bev left the room and came back with a big wrapped box.
"Oh, by the way, Jake, this came in the mail yesterday so I thought we’d celebrate your birthday early. Hope you don’t mind."
Jake looked questioningly at Bev for an instant before he started opening the present.
Then . . .
I wish you could have seen the look on my son’s face . . .
(*) names are ficticious; events are true.