Leftover Casserole

I’m back in the fog of having a fever and helplessly dependent on my loved one. While no ample substitution for my mother, at least mine is 28 and has google at his fingertips. I remember a time when my dad was not so lucky.

I was ten years old. My family was celebrating my youngest brother’s baptism at our house one Sunday after church, when my mom received a call that her grandmother had passed away. She left in a flurry that night, leaving me, my  seven-year-old brother, and my dad with the party aftermath. Compassionate neighbors stopped by with casseroles and soups to communicate their sympathy. 

That night, my dad said he wasn’t feeling well and went to lay in bed. He asked if I could bring him some of the casserole one of the neighbors had provided. I cut him a fresh slice, put the casserole back on the counter, and brought it in. It turns out he had the flu- the kind that brings up anything eaten, and his lifeline was a ten year old with no developed life or kitchen skills.

Mom would call me every few hours with instructions for what to do (a washcloth here, more water or sprite there). A neighbor picked me up and dropped me off from school the next day, and I scampered back into the dark abyss of the master bedroom to make sure my dad was still responsive.

He was. In fact, he requested more casserole, as it had probably been nearly a 24 hour streak since he last ate. I went to the kitchen, opened up the tin foil I had shrouded the casserole in, cut him a new piece, and microwaved it in increments of 10 seconds. I knew nothing about cook times.

I brought it to him, he ate most of it, then asked me a perplexing question. “Where did you put the casserole?” he asked.

“On the counter,” I responded.

“No, I mean after I ate some last night,” he said.

“On the counter,” I reiterated.

As it turns out, these types of things need to be refrigerated. And, warming lukewarm casserole doesn’t exactly resurrect a spoiled dish. What’s one thing that will stay down when you have the flu? Not that casserole.

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