I rushed to get her some ice and, as blisters started appearing, some petroleum jelly. Her entire arm was soon red and splotchy. She was clearly in great pain, and I begged her to stop cooking and lie down. She insisted that she had to finish the cooking before the guests came and kept cooking. I could see from her face how hard it was for her.
Decades have passed since then. I have never been able to forget the accident or to forgive myself for inadvertently causing so much pain to my dear mother. I knew she had deferred going to a doctor because she wanted to make sure that my birthday party was impeccable.
I spoke to her the year she died at 91 and told her of my tenacious, troubling souvenir. Characteristically, she said, “You didn’t do anything wrong. I was careless.” She added, “I was so glad your birthday party went well.”