Mom, as I have mentioned before, is one of twelve kids in her family. She knows all her siblings birthdays. She recites them often, commenting that there are more kids born in March than any other month. "I wonder what was happening nine months before that, that mom and dad had so much time on their hands," she laughs.
Her brother, Fred, just two years older than she, has his birthday in July. My brother, her son, has his birthday in July. Their birthdays are not on the same day, except for mom. She confuses my brother with her brother and talks about his birthday all the time. She talks about how her mom baked the best cakes, and in the summer, Fred's cake was usually served with berries on it. "Mom never even used a recipe," she says, "she just threw together a cake."
"Fred kept chickens, and those fresh eggs made the best cakes," she says. "Fred knew all his chickens by name and could tell you which egg came from which chicken. He always said that the dauber-neck eggs were the best for cakes. Fred could bake a beautiful cake. But on his birthday, mom baked the cake. She baked a cake for everyone on his or her birthday. We didn't get many presents, but we always got a cake."
Then, she gets upset that she can't bake Fred a cake. "I don't have a stove." She walks around the kitchen with her hands on her hips, looking all around. "I used to have a stove, but somebody took it," she says. We've had this stove discussion in a myriad of forms. She doesn't have a stove because we could make it so she didn't have a stove.
There was a huge upset when she still lived in Cincinnati. The gas company meter reader came to her house in Cincinnati and discovered the stove on when mom wasn't home. After that, they sent a letter requesting a meeting, which mom threw away (we found out later). The gas company came to the house and disconnected the gas. The man who disconnected the stove told her there was something wrong with her stove. Clever man, how could she argue with that? When I finally got a report from mom that I could make some sense of, I called the gas company.
They told me about the meter reader finding the stove on, and how they had attempted to contact mom about the stove issue and how she didn't recall talking to them. They were very polite, but implacable. Mom can't have a gas stove.
Mom grew up in a house with no electricity, no running water, and no gas appliances.At night, they banked the fire in the stove so they could have embers to start a new fire in the morning. In her mind, in the past where she lives, you don't turn off our stove at night. We looked at gas stoves with auto shut off. They looked wonderful, but they are too expensive for our budget. So, she can't have a gas stove.
The house we moved her to had an electric stove. We siblings talked about it--could she work an electric stove? Cooking is one of her joys, even though she is terrible at it now, because she can't keep her mind on her task. It would be wonderful to be able to let her cook. When we moved her, we could try the electric stove. But before the move, I took mom away for a few days over Thanksgiving. While we were together, she melted a comb with a curling iron. I sent my siblings a text. "No stove."
At the new house, Kevin and my brother moved the electric stove out to the garage. We put the microwave on a trolley where the stove would be. We told her the pipes for her gas stove had yet to be run, and she would have to make do until my brother had time to come up and install them. That was a year and a half ago. She mostly doesn't ask about the stove any more, but its a mine field when she does.
I decide to drive around the field, and ignore the stove thing altogether.
I say, "We don't have any dauber-neck eggs. The only kind of eggs I have are store bought, and heaven knows what kind of eggs those are."
"I wonder where we could get Dauber-neck eggs?" she says. "I will ask Fred when he gets here."
Crisis averted. For now