“Don’t forget to eat. There’s lunchmeat and cheese in the fridge, and bread. Make a sandwich when you’re hungry,” she said before leaving the house. She was the sweetest thing and never stopped worrying about her four boys, the scamps. They had attained teenage years, but still she worried. The fifth child was a daughter, too sensible to need such basic warnings as this.
The four irreverently joked after she walked out the door, ‘What, forget to eat? Come on.’ They continued with the electric racecar track they had set up taking turns to see who had the best lap time. They then played a game of Monopoly, the board game, always a lengthy ordeal, this game. The hours dropped off before they split off to their own devices. The oldest grabbed a record, put it on the stereo in the living room and laid down on the carpet for a listen. The second went to his room to play his bass guitar, the other two went to play a strategy game, the goal being world domination. They were all occupied and content.
The oldest awakened from a nap after who knows how long. The record had played itself out, but the stereo had an auto restart feature and the record played on. He was sprawled out on the floor just as he was when he first started the record, but his strength was gone. He couldn’t get up and could barely move. He had barely strength enough to yell to his brothers.
“Mike, are you out there? I can’t get up. I forgot to eat,” admitting the absurdity.
“Tom, that you? Can’t get up either. Been trying for a while. Can’t even turn over. On my bed wiggling my fingers. All I can do,” Mike replied.
“Bill, Ed, you guys there? Can you help,” yelled Tom expending what seemed the last of his energy.
“I’m here with Ed,” responded Bill. “We’re immobile, can’t move. Ed’s not responding but I can hear his shallow breathing. You guys forgot to eat, too?”
Their plight was clear. They had neglected to engage the proffered lunchmeats and cheese. Very tantalizing, the thought of sandwiches heartily laden with the various meats. So close, yet they might as well be locked away in the belly of Fort Knox. These boys were helpless to help themselves.
When she returned home the quietude indicated that something was likely awry. Four boys in the house alone and the only noise was the record player flowing from the stereo. With bags of groceries in her arms she called the boys’ names in sequence of oldest to youngest. “Tom, Mike, Bill, Ed,” she calmly called out while setting the bags down on the kitchen table. There was no response. She went to the living room and saw the oldest flopped out on the ground with the music still playing. The oldest was a good boy and the music was never played too loudly. Even now, the stereo’s volume was absolutely correct. He was still alive, but not responding. She called the other three while she quickly, though unhurriedly, returned to the kitchen for a slice of American cheese. She tore off a piece, tucked the cheese into the oldest’s mouth and went upstairs looking for the others.
She was a wonderful mom. Her actions were consistently flawless, especially when trusting her motherly instincts. She was worried, to be sure, but not panicked. She’d handled worse emergencies than this; broken collar bone from seeing one boy fall out of a tree, emergency late one Sunday night for teeth to be pulled after a face forward fall onto concrete steps, tetanus shot after one of the boys stepped on a rusty nail that went through a shoe. Heck, she thought to herself, these four flopped out because they forgot to eat will be one of the easiest emergencies I’ll have the privilege of serving.
The other three were located, cheese tucked into their mouths as she did with the first. The cheese would get the salivation glands going, it would be digested, nourish the boys and slowly restore their consciousness. She got more cheese and two slices of salami each. As consciousness and energy were regained they could gobble up the salami slices under their own volition. She put away the groceries and started an early supper.
It was the night to clean the kitchen floors so that meant tacos for dinner. They were good eaters, when they remembered to do so, but a messy lot. Cleaning up after a night of tacos and ground beef was not for the faint of heart. But this mom had the program figured out. Prepare the messiest meal immediately beforethe floors are to be cleaned, not afterthe floors had been cleaned.
The boys slowly regained consciousness and started calling to their mom. “You’re OK. Come down to dinner when you feel strong enough,” she called back to the first one to regain himself.
Their dad came home, “Wow, this place smells great, like tacos! Why’s it so quiet?”
“They forgot to eat,” she replied matter of factly doing her best to stifle laughter.
“Again,” said the father shaking his head in disbelief.
“I fed them each just enough to rouse them. They’ll be down to dinner soon.”
“Well, a pleasant evening like this calls for sangria. Can I pour you a glass of orange juice and wine,” he offered.
The peace and quiet would not last long. A few of the boys were already starting in on their salami slices.
[Inspired by words of warning Mom Klem would call out to her boys when stepping out for a few hours.]