Have you ever had a memory pop into your head at the strangest time? It never ceases to amaze me how at the oddest times something will spark a memory in my mind, bringing a smile to my face, or a tear to my eye. It is like a hidden file, deep inside the recesses of my brain, that gets opened by some secret hand inside my head. A smell, a song, a taste, even a thought can send that electric current shooting through my brain and cause me to remember a person or event that occurred in my life. And of course, that happened to me recently while I was washing the dishes...dishes from breakfast time, after eating eggs...eggs that were stuck to plates that had to be scrubbed off. The memory came crashing through my head setting off a series of thoughts that put a smile on my face and kept me chuckling all day long.
Yet, before I even attempt to tell the story, which my older brother can do so much better than I can, I want you to remember that every family has crazy moments; things that happen in a lifetime that makes the your family seem so different than any other family you know. At least you think it is different, such as the conversations that always pop up during dinner time and you would be completely mortified if a stranger walked in at that very moment causing you to want to crawl under the table and hide forever. You always think you are alone in life's ups and downs and that the event is unique to you, but as life unfold and you learn more about people, you find out that every one is really the same in more ways than one. You learn that you are not alone in life's events. There is nothing new under the sun.
As I was scrubbing the plate that had egg yolk stuck all over it, the thought crossed my mind that I better clean it so well that nobody can tell we had eggs that morning. When I say tell, I do not mean just being able to see the egg, but clean it so well so that nobody can even smell the egg afterwards. I drifted back to that Saturday so many years ago, when I was a teenager. We had a guest over that night for dinner and as we all sat down to eat he looked around at the food and commented on how good it all looked. Then he set his napkin on his lap and as he did I noticed he leaned down to the plate and put his nose over the top and gave a sniff. "I smell eggs! Did someone have eggs for breakfast today?"
I know my eyes widened like saucers at his comment and I felt like crawling under my chair, but that would make it completely obvious that I had been the one to do dishes that day. And, yes, we did have eggs that morning. The entire family sat rooted to their chairs for a second, not sure how to react to such a comment from our guest. Once the initial shock wore off, one of us jumped out of our chair and hurried to retrieve a new, cleaner plate, possibly sniffing it on the way over to make sure there was no smell of egg on the new plate. We did not want to cause our visitor (or my mom!) (or me!) any more undue stress over dinner.
It was this incident, as well as a few others that occurred over the years of our knowing this gentleman, that sparked the events that caused my family to do a pretty crazy thing. My mom had been sick and was laid up for a week or two. A few people from church decided to make our large family of eight some meals to help out, so this kind gentleman decided he would jump in and sign up. I am not sure if he gave it to us at church or if he came all the way out to our house an hour away, but somehow the gigantic pot of casserole ended up on the counter for our family to enjoy. We did enjoy it, and we ate to our hearts' content, hardly making a dent in the large pot. The next day we ate it for lunch, and my dad probably brought it for lunch at work the next day too. And the next day...and the next day. The more we dug down into the pot, the more it seemed to miraculous expand. It was like the miracle of Jesus when He fed the 5,000 on the hill. The food kept multiplying until all twelve disciple were carrying around baskets, handing out bread and fish to the people until their hungry tummies were full. I could picture all eight of us carrying around eight gigantic pots of casserole, trying to find more people to feed. It was like eating turkey after Thanksgiving... there comes a point when you feel like you have had enough and cannot eat another bite of the stuff. At this point my mom was feeling better and was quite ready to get her kitchen back. It was time to go shopping so she could restock the fridge with food for her family. Yet, we had a problem. A huge problem. A giant pot of casserole type of problem. It took up the entire shelf or two inside the refrigerator and we had no idea what to do with it.
"We can't eat another bite of that stuff!" the children complained to Mom.
"But we need to finish it up! We can't waste it! What would Mr. Q think?" Mom said. She hated wasting food anyway. Remember, there are starving children in Africa who would love to eat that casserole.
"But we've been eating it all week long and we're tired of it! Can't we throw the rest away?"
Mom would not hear of it. She was adamant about not throwing it out simply because she did not want to have to tell Mr. Q that we had thrown his casserole in the garbage. He would never forgive us!
"We don't have to tell him we threw it away!" the children argued. "He won't ever know!"
"Remember the plate incident?" she asked us. "Trust me, he'll find out somehow. Or he'll just ask us and we can't lie to him."
"What do you think he'll do?" Dad asked Mom. "It's not like he's going to go looking through our garbage for it."
My older brother smiled. "I can just see him now, running into the house with a mask and cape on yelling, "You threw it away! I just know it!" and with an evil laugh he'll go sniffing through all our garbage until he finds every last bit of casserole and make us eat it until it's gone!"
This comment did not help my mother's decision. "No, we can't throw it away! We just can't!"
"Then what should we do with it?" all the children asked.
"We'll bury it!"
We looked at each other. "Bury it?"
"Yes! He'll never come out and ask us if we buried it so we should be good with that." She told my older brother to get a shovel and go dig a big hole. He stood looking at her still unsure if she was serious. She was. It was growing dark outside by now which seemed a good time of day to dig a hole to secretly bury a casserole. A little while later my brother came in from behind the house and announced that the hole was ready. Without further ado, we took the giant pot outside and dumped the contents into the ground and watched as he covered up the never ending casserole. After he patted the earth smooth we quickly went inside and washed the pot. We would return it to the kind gentleman the next time we saw him at church a few days later, and we could rest in the knowledge that we had not "thrown it away" if he asked.
The lesson learned from this event is never make someone a casserole in a giant pot...put it in a small pan that is big enough for one, possibly two meals, because the person eating it may just bury it so they don't have to tell you that they ended up throwing your delicious, but enormous amount of dinner away. And of course, always doubly wash your plates after a meal of eggs, for that, my friend, is a lesson we all could benefit from.