Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Day three hundred and forty three ... Running out of time.

Time is of the essence, so I must write fast.

I wasn't going to do it today but here I am and now it is done.

I shut down the fridge.

See, I still have all the utilities going at the house in Mattapoisett. I have to. But I don't have to keep everything on all the time when energy is at a premium. And the last electric bill was outrageously high for a place I go back to once or twice a week.

And the main culprit is the fridge.

It's full of ice cream and root beer.

Why?

Because that's all my aunt was able to eat/drink during the last month or so of her life.

Mint chocolate chip and coffee ice cream were her favorites. And I was put to the test on several occasions with her endlessly detailed shopping lists trying to bring home the exact item she asked for. But I did my best, and more often than not brought home what she wanted.

Oh man. I gotta get going.

I gotta get going because I have three fully insulated bags filled with several pints of ice cream and freezer packs. It will keep them frozen for a while, but I have a two hour ride back to Florence.

I just spent twenty minutes taking the half empty containers and smushing them in the sink under hot water. What a strange feeling. I mean, if I liked mint chocolate chip ice cream I would have been all set. I would have brought them home. But I don't, and so I now have hands which just kneaded about two gallons of mint chocolate chip ice cream into the sink grate under hot water. 

The gravy had to go too--gravy from two Thanksgivings ago. It was a stubborn little orb--greasy, pungent, and more resilient to the hot water than the airy and porous ice cream.

And a couple of remnants of the soups she had made had to go too. They were kind of old, and I just couldn't bear to try to save them.

Do you know how strange a feeling it is to have a frozen fossil of a product of a person who isn't living anymore in your hands? It almost feels alive. It has a strange power. And I had to make an executive decision and throw it away. God damn it, that wasn't easy.

Her prep went into it. Her stirring went into it. Her store-bought ingredients went into it. And gas was expended on the stove. Muscles were used to pour it into bowls, mugs, and finally, tupperware. Some of it she even managed to eat--but not much.

And now it's in the trash.

And the ice cream is melting--slower than it could, but melting nonetheless.

It is alive in a way.

And it was as precious as plasma during her last couple of weeks. She would just sit there with a big bowl of ice cream--this woman who was perpetually dieting--and she would eat bowl after bowl of the stuff. 

We knew she wasn't long for this world when that started, but it was better than her eating nothing.

And now the chocolate chips, and the cream, and the nuts, and the sugar, and the guar gum, and the polyunsaturated fats, and the natural flavorings, and the corn starch, and all of the everything that went into those little pints of survival--however long they kept her alive--are now careening through the Mattapoisett sewer system, onward and downward, to mix with raw sewage and gray water.

But there are still alive specimens in my freezer bags.

They are full of promise still. The are calorie laden and fattening, but they have the potential to go to good use. For I am learning the art of moderation, and a few tablespoons of ice cream in a tiny bowl every so often will prove in the long run to be more helpful in my dieting than complete and total abstinence. 

And the fridge is off. A constant, intermittent, recognizable sound has become a distant memory. The fridge keeps itself alive and useful by recognizing when enough of its life blood (so to speak) has leaked out into the air. It judges it's state of affairs and then it takes action. It turns its fan and freon distributor on for long enough to bring the temperature back down to an acceptable level. It does this all night and all day. It does this every day until it gets shut down. 

And as I sit here typing this, knowing full well that I need to get out of here, I know that sound won't return until I plug it back in. It's a strange feeling. It will take some getting use to. 

And the cases of root beer will sit in the dark, wondering what happened--wondering if the light will come back on and if anybody will be needing them. 

And I've got the ice cream.

I've got the freezer bags.

I've got a two hour ride home.

I've got to get the hell out of here.






Thanks for reading.


F.A.J.

1 comment:

KELTICGRASSHOPPER said...

Ice-cream..I have an image of your sweet aunt...eating those bowls of ice-cream in her last days. Lovely story..glad you were able to rescue some of the stuff!!! Enjoy, a few tablespoons at a time...