“No tea tonight,” I said, guiding him back toward his chair.
Ten minutes later he got up and asked if I wanted a cup of tea. I reminded him the kettle was toast but he didn’t understand that little joke either. “Burned up…like burned toast,” I said.
Yesterday I shopped for a another kettle. I thought about an old-fashioned stovetop one, but bought another just like the electric one we’d had. Then I second- guessed myself and continued shopping, this time for a regular kettle like the one he’d grown up with.
Later, after showing him the new kettle that whistled like his ol’ granny’s did, I urged him make a cuppa. When he held the kettle over the cup to pour, he forgot to pull the whistle cover back. Most of the water went onto the stove and counter top. He tried again, with similar results but with me beside him to prompt.
Then, before bed I went to prepare the coffee maker for this morning. A smell? SMELL…OMG GAS! I hadn’t supervised his last cup of tea and although he’d turned the knob to the left as he should, he hadn’t turned it all the way to “off.” Gas hissed, though I couldn’t hear it in the other room, and I didn’t smell it until I was in the kitchen. I think Nobby knew something was wrong. He’d been nudging us for some time as he often does in the evenings. I think he was trying to warn us that we needed to get up and fix it.
When I explained to Peter what had happened, I tried to make light of it. “Good thing we aren’t smokers!” I said. He didn’t get that either, but he was quite pale. Then I remembered what I never would’ve thought my husband would remember. His granddad Alf, then in his mid-nineties, had started having trouble making his tea. The final shot that forced Peter’s dad, John, into finding a nursing home for Alf was when he found the kettle on the gas hob, flames shooting to the ceiling. A pot holder had caught fire. John, widowed, had Parkinson’s Disease and needed help himself. He could no longer look after his father.
The electric kettle I bought yesterday went into service today, as have cookie sheet barriers across the top of my range.
The English are known for offering calming cups of tea in crises, but last evening, when we really needed a cuppa, I’d already hidden the stovetop kettle and was too shaken up to find the electric one that I’d stashed somewhere. It seeing action today though.
Header photo: the melted bottom of our electric kettle.