Memories: Panic in the House
by Marcia Casar Friedman
Amazon Book written by Marcia!
Suddenly there was a fire blasting upward in front of us. Initially, I felt scared and confused and then I heard the “ohs” and “ahs” of the appreciative Japanese Restaurant patrons.
The chef was putting on his fancy demonstration of a volcano erupting out of a stack of onion rings. This event pushed my memory to age ten, when the family lived in a small cozy two-story row house, in a small town outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Mom was ordered to the usual and customary bed rest for six weeks after hysterectomy surgery.
Mom and I worked out meal preparations in a very productive manner. First, we created a shopping list for Dad to buy groceries. I usually went along to help. When it was time to cook a meal, Mom told me what to bring upstairs to her bedroom.
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For example, a bowl with ground meat in it, several spices, the loaf pan, 2 eggs, etc. I put everything on the nightstand next to her bed, within easy reach so she could sit up and give me mixing and fixing directions.
On this particular day, which the fire at the restaurant shocked me into remembering, I went downstairs to the kitchen to follow the carefully detailed directions of lighting a long match and slowly turning on the gas pilot in the rear of the bottom of the oven. Next it was important to swiftly, yet carefully, back away from the flames and the heat of the oven.
The pilot light would not turn on.
Mom and I had a running conversation, more like yelling upstairs and downstairs, about the oven lighting dilemma. By putting more effort into being a contortionist to carefully light the match, then guide it to the back of the oven, I was able to turn on the gas. WHOOSH! A fire flew out of the oven.
My hair was on fire!
Panic in the house downstairs! Panic in the house upstairs!
Mom kept shouting “Turn off the gas knob, now!”
I cried and screamed “Help, help me!” while sprinting up the steps knowing I needed my Mommy to take care of me. I was so terrified that all I could do was pat myself with my hands, all over my face and head in an attempt to snuff out the flames.
When Mom saw the simmering fire in my hair, she directed me to go to the bathroom faucet to pour water all over my head and blouse. If we had a shower in the house, that would have been a faster solution.
Once the fires were put out and we were breathing and thinking again, able to evaluate the situation, it was obvious the fire had burned off some hair from my head, singed my eyebrows and scorched off part of my eye lashes.
The kitchen escaped without any damage. During the commotion I was able to turn off the gas line that lead to the oven, before running out of the kitchen.
My hair! My eyebrows! My eye lashes! Mom and I sobbed, hugging and consoling each other. While crying, I kept repeating, “I’ll be the only girl in school with frizzy, burned hair! Will I ever get my eye brows and eye lashes back?”
So many questions without answers. Will the hair grow back? How will it look? And so on and so on.
I don’t remember the ensuing details, except that the sickening smell from the burning hair did eventually leave the house and my body. The various areas on my face and head with burned hair were never mentioned to me by anyone at school.
Maybe they didn’t care enough to notice, or since I was so shy, they didn’t want to mention the distressing truth. After almost a year of obsessing and stressing over the events, my hair grew back in each area, leading to a full physical recovery.
Humnnn…maybe this memory explains why I always wanted an electric stove in my kitchen instead of a gas stove.
The worrisome, scary parts of the event eventually faded into a memory, leaving me with the wonderful tender loving memories of how Mom took care of me.
It has been rewarding for me to relive the panic in the house situation. I savor the fond memories of how Mom and I were very close, working as a team. Not every child can brag about their loving relationship with their Mom.
I’m grateful for memories from the past, that are revealed in the present, when least expected. Compassionate memories can appear at the most unexpected times, even in a restaurant.