Did you know that April 12th is National Grilled Cheese Day? And April is Grilled Cheese month. My daughter is the best grilled cheese artist – there is no one better in my book, except one. This is a story about the time dad and I were batchin’ it. As I was thinking about a phrase that summed up this post the best I remembered dad telling me that while mom was in the hospital we were batchin’ it. So I Googled it to make sure I spelled it correctly and I was surprised to learn that many many people did not know what it meant so I thought I would explain it first. Batchin’ it is a colloquial term for living as a bachelor – without a wife to take care of you.
Let me introduce you to Jack. He was born in 1918, the only child of a pharmacist and a boarding house owner. By his own account he led a very spoiled life until the stock market crashed and his dad had a stroke. Dad was a cutter in the rodeo and a race car driver of super modified cars – obviously this is where my adventure gene came from because mom is shy and afraid of just about everything. A cutter is a horseman with an American Quarter Horse who trains the horse very well. In the event, man and horse cut a steer from a small herd – which merely means they block the steer from traveling with the herd, no blood is shed. When the steer tries to return to the herd, the trained horse and the horse alone keeps the steer from returning by blocking his path during all attempts. Jack also; took his hat off in the presence of all women. He held mom’s doors and coats (mine too), bought us flowers and candy on Valentine’s Day and he always, always stood when either one of us stood up in public. He always took his hat off in the house, in church, and in the presence of a lady. He could dance like the wind and his blue mirthful eyes revealed complete paragraphs although he seldom spoke a word. He thought a meal should be cooked and a sandwich was a snack. I thought he was the best thing since sliced bread and he thought the same of me.
When I was 5-years-old, mom was going to have a baby. I really didn’t know what that meant except that it was very hard to hug her now that her stomach was so big! What I didn’t know until I was much older was that mom, her brothers and sisters and my Jim-Pa all have the rarest blood type there is: AB-. I, on the other hand was born O+ meaning since dad had positive blood type (same as my biological dad) the baby was in trouble. But there was hope! Mom bravely entered into a Pfizer trial for Rh Coombs – where sadly she found out later she was given the placebo. But, early on there was excitement and hope in our house as something was coming but I wasn’t sure what – I was hoping for a horse! At 6 months along, mom was feeling ill and was rushed across the state to the big hospital in Oklahoma City. She had three amniocentesis’ tests in one day. If you’ve ever had one, you know how miserable that was. She had to stay so dad and I made the trip up and trip home (3 hours each way) every single day. We got to eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner at restaurants. Eating out was uncommon back then so considered a treat so I hoped mom would stay in the hospital a long time!
One day, a Sunday, we went to visit and mom was VERY sick. She was 7 months along at this point and I remember her physician telling dad that the baby was probably dying and there was nothing they could do but wait. There was also a big risk of losing mom. That was exactly what he said and somehow I thought mom was lost in the hospital so I ran down the hall and called out for her.
We made the trip every day but I never got to see her because she was too sick. Finally, one evening as we were in the waiting room talking with the physician a nurse ran in and said mom was losing too much blood. I remember her starched white nursing dress with her traditional nursing cap and how her bright red lipstick made her teeth look yellow. The look on her face was contorted and I think my age and that lipstick magnified the look. The doctor jumped up to go to the room and my dad stood up, took him by the arm, and said in a very quiet voice, that if anything happened to my mother the physician would have to answer to him. Because mom’s blood was so rare, none could be found and things were very scary I thought. Dad sat stone faced staring at something imaginary in space, but he kept saying everything was going to be okay. I’m told; the doctor himself laid down on a gurney next to mom and gave her a pint of blood until a donor could be found in another town.
That night, dad and I made the 3 hour trip home in silence. I slept most of the way. When we got home I was starving but dad………..not so much. We went into the kitchen and looked in the cupboards and the fridge. Dad didn’t cook but decided we would have grilled cheese sandwiches. Silently, except for the whir of the electric kitchen clock, I buttered bread the soft white Wonder Bread while he sliced the cheese. We sat at the bar in the kitchen I remember tracing the veins in the marble that felt cold and wet, but that’s how marble feels all the time. Dad looked as if he was lost, and I knew something was wrong because dad never wore his hat in the house and yet it was still on his head. In a few moments he announced, “I don’t know how to cook a grilled cheese, do you”? I just shrugged my shoulders and hoped I didn’t get into trouble for not answering out loud. Dad didn’t seem to notice. Then he laughed and said, “let’s bake ‘em”. And we did. We turned on the oven to 450 F and put them in for 10 minutes on one side and then a few less on the other.
I think it must have been the very best grilled cheese sandwich I ever had. Every bite was an equal balance of crunchy bread and creamy cheese. We ate in silence for a few minutes until dad asked me, “How much did the pirates earrings cost”? I didn’t know. “A buccaneer”. Laughing and mayhem ensued and all was right in my world again! The loss of the baby, a girl, was never mentioned again by my dad and my mom seldom says a word. It’s one of those things that couldn’t be spoken of because that would make it somehow………less.
Baked grilled cheese is a great way to make them and you can make several at once depending on how big your baking pan is. I hope you’ll try it sometime. I want to thank you for taking this trip down memory lane with me over the last week. We’ll go back to regular programming on Sunday! In the mean time – look what Mr. Picky Eater did with a $5 beaten up desk we got at a hard sale. Not bad, huh? I chose the color on the left and he chose the color on the right!
Isn’t it crazy to think about things like this and the recent medical past. How many advances today! (My grandmother lost a baby girl too and nobody spoke about it either. I know that still haunted her until her own passing.)
Yes absolutely! I forgot to say I was very proud of my mom for participating in that trial so mother’s today don’t have the same loss and she and my dad experienced. Medical advances are a wonderful thing for those who get to reap the benefits of those who came before!
What a heartbreaking experience for all of you to have to go through. I’ve never baked cheese sandwiches, but I’ll have to give it a try.
Your husband is a genius – what a makeover!
Thank you Lillian – and yes, he did a bang-up job!
Oh, wow. That’s a tearjerker of a story. I guess not all memories can be 100% positive.
Thanks to your mom for participating in the trial. Without the RH shot, I probably wouldn’t be here… along with countless other people. It’s so sad what people have to sacrifice so others don’t have to experience the same thing.
I’ve never thought of baking grilled cheese (toasted cheese as it’s known in my head), but it seems easier. I’m definitely going to have to try that soon!
Yes, and one day when you are my age and some things have been irradicated – or close to it, you will remember when it wasn’t and be thankful that Trinity won’t ever have to worry about that thing! Geez, I”m old, or at least I sound old don’t I? 🙂
Anita at Hungry Couple
Thank you for sharing that sad story. It’s amazing how these things unfold through the eyes of a child. Your dad (stepdad I guess) sounds like a good, good man. And I’ve baked my grilled cheese sandwiches for years and didn’t even know that was unusual. 🙂
Really? Wow – I never heard anyone else talk about it so I think you are ahead of your time. He was a great man. I always like to think my 1st dad helped my mom find my 2nd dad.
Wowza–what a post! You are handy with the DIY for sure. But the baby story–wow. Love the grilled cheese story–food is awesome like that. And the joke? Sheesh, what an awesomely bittersweet memory. Life is not all hearts and roses, is it? But we’ll always have grilled cheese and apparently also a National Holiday in which to celebrate its cheesy goodness!
I couldn’t have said it better myself Liz!! Honestly, people go through all kind of things it’s only the ones who get on TV that we hear about anymore. I remember when no one would be caught dead going on TV to discuss some of the things that are proudly discussed today on talk shows. 🙂 Thanks for the compliment on the DIY and grilled cheese!
now at home mom
Kelli, reading your post, made me sad, I’m so sorry for the lost of the baby girl, it must have been very hard on your parents! I’m glad that you shared this beautiful story with us! I’m also glad about you letting us know it’s national grilled cheese day! 🙂 I will be making them today in the oven (hubby will love them!) btw, I love what you did with an old $5 desk ! AMAZING!!! I love the transformation! will you be using them as nightstands or cabinets?
The drawers in each are crimson and then cream – those area the University of Oklahoma’s school colors. My husband, daughter, son, and son-in-law each got at least 1 college degree there so we will put them in our OU room as side tables! Thank you for all your kind words. Bet you love the baked grilled cheese!
now at home mom
Oh! very nice! 🙂
What an amazing food story to come home to after a long day at the hospital … Thanks so much for sharing 🙂
Ah, thank you for reading it – I know you are busy as a bee!!
You have no idea ~ Joint Commission showed up on my second day and it was nuts 🙁
Oh NO! That happened to me once. You’ll make it through – then POC enacted – all will be well, soon, or this time next year! 🙂
FYI ~ It didn’t go well so I have 45 days to fix “everything” 🙂
Yeah, I figured – Well…….I’ll be seeing ya in 46 days! 🙂
Once again, you’ve made me cry! While I want to say that you should really stop that, I don’t mean it. I was blessed with a stepfather who, for all the demons he was chasing, blessed my life in many ways while he was part of it. What a beautiful tribute to both the man who loved you as his own and your dear mother. (I love the part where you hoped it might be a horse! You never can know what children are thinking!)
My grandmother lost twin boys when she was seven months along. I was almost grown when it finally came up in conversation. All those many, many years later, I could tell it was still painful to discuss.
I’ve never thought of making grill cheese sandwiches in the oven! What a great idea when you have a bunch of folks to feed.
Thank you Stacy – You know, I really DID get a horse that Christmas! I asked my Nana once when this all happened and the details she wanted to share when I was older. Apparently, both my biological father and my sister passed away (officially) on April 15th. Now, I seriously don’t remember either but long before I knew when it was,I began getting this odd feeling every year about this time – I think it could be best described as wistful. I suppose that might be why I’ve written the posts I have over the past week. And it’s true, mom seldom even says anything about it, just like your grandmother.
How wonderful that you did get a horse! I’ll bet that was the best Christmas ever. Recording family stories is so important and one day your children and grandchildren will be grateful you did. I can understand why you get wistful around this time of year. Now matter how much we have to be thankful for, when people are missing in our lives, it’s hard not to let a little sadness for what might have been creep in.
The Renegade Seamstress
OK, seriously?!? National Grilled Cheese Day? How fun is that!!!! Your photo made me hop right up and make a few of these cheesy, tasty morsels of goodness for my family, too. I’m so sorry about your little sister, but thanks for sharing your heartfelt story of your childhood memory. And those drawers turned out beautiful. Such an amazing transformation!
Happy Saturday Morning, I’m off to do some sewing……
Wow- what a memory and what an experience. Your parents sounded like wonderful, loving people. I’m quite intrigued by your grilled cheese recipe. I don’t know a single person who doesn’t love grilled cheese and yours definitely looks worth trying. And I LOVE the drawers! Mr Picky Eater is quite the handy man- can I borrow him? lol
Thank you! he is very handy – and if he doesn’t already know how to do it, it can usually figure it out thank goodness because I have all kinds of ideas running around in my head all the time!
Thank you so much for sharing your memories with us. Must have been hard on all of you. National grilled cheese day huh? You can never go wrong with grilled cheese. Always lifts me up after a hard day.
Thank you so much for dropping by and please come again!
How sad, but very happy that things have come so far. Your mom and dad were brave souls!
I love grilled cheese, have never baked them. I cook my nice and crispy and slow, about 5 mins on each side, to melt the cheese, and crisp the bread.
great looking nightstands!!
Thank you very much for dropping by Gail, and I’ll hope you’ll come again!
thats a great story!
Thank you so much! I appreciate your comments and enjoyed you dropping by – please come again!