Sunday, March 18, 2012

Seasoning the Skillet

In my possession I have two wonderful cast-iron objects, a skillet and a griddle. I inherited them from my husband's grandmother. When I got them they were perfectly seasoned-much better to cook with than any non-stick skillet on the market. We learned they needed different care than other pots and pans. They have to be washed just so and oiled just so. When cared for properly, they can last for generations.

This morning I wanted to fry an egg on the griddle. To my disappointment, my perfectly seasoned griddle had been damaged. It wasn't in any way intentional. In fact, I'm sure it was done lovingly. Last night someone dear to me washed my dishes while I was out. No doubt she put a lot of elbow grease into scrubbing that pan, trying to remove all the layers of oil that caked it's surface. When she realized she couldn't get it all off, it was probably with resignation that she placed it in the dish drain to dry. And rust.

After pulling out my skillet to cook the egg, I thought about how I should respond to the situation. Should I approach the person who washed the griddle and gently teach her how to care for cast-iron cookware? What would be the result? It's not as if she's ever going to go buy herself any; she does not cook. I was glad to come home to a clean sink and clean dishes. Would she feel that if I said anything negative about it? I don't think so. Even if I said it kindly, there is a chance she'd be left with hurt feelings. I don't want that.

In truth, it's not too late to save my griddle. I'm going to have to do some work to fix it though. It'll probably take some sanding to get the rest of the layers off. Then I'll have to re-season it. It might take a while before it's got a perfectly slick surface again, but I'm sure I can do it. Although it will take a little effort on my part, I think it will be easy. Easy, compared to repairing a relationship that could be damaged if I weren't careful.

In some ways I think I'm like my little griddle. There have been times when well-meaning people have said things that marred me a bit. Completely without intending to hurt, they've poked me in a way that felt uncomfortable. I hear this from others as well, mothers who have lost their child for whatever reason. It's hard to know what to say to someone who has lost a child. Things like, "He's better off where he is," "Now you have an angel watching over you," and "You're lucky he didn't live, it would be hard to care for a disabled child" are all well-meant but they can hurt just the same. They hurt because I would have rather had my child with me than anywhere else. Yes, any of us would be better off in a place we didn't have to worry about all the negative aspects of this earth life. Any child is going to be work to raise, no matter what abilities they have. And, while I'm happy to know I have angels watching over me, I really, really want to hug my little boy. I cannot. He is not here. I miss him terribly. I'm rusting.

Even though there are times I've been hurt by what was said, I've mostly been uplifted. It takes some thought and love to find something to say. I know because I struggle to find the right words when I want to reach out and console others. Every time. So, instead of telling you how to season my griddle, I'll probably just stow it away when you come visiting. You may not even be aware it's there. Perhaps someday when I've finally given it enough heat and enough coats of oil we can take it out and cook together. I'm glad you care enough to be near me and I'm glad you remember my son.

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