Today, as I was steaming some kale in my pressure cooker, I thought of my mom. She passed away in September, but not from using a pressure cooker.

When we were kids, in the days before Assassin’s Creed and other video games, we would play with the pots and pans that were stored in the lower kitchen cabinets. One day, I came across a pot I had never seen my mom use.

What’s this?

The pressure cooker.

Why don’t we ever use it?

Oh, someone gave it to me when your dad and I got married, but they’re dangerous.

I quickly shoved it way back in the cabinet. From then on, I tried not to brush against it when getting the nice, friendly pots and pans to play with.

There were other dangers lurking about. My cousin had fallen off a step ladder that looked almost identical to ours and cut her ear, so I’d try to avoid eye contact with our step ladder. When my mom read a story in the paper about a nun who swallowed straight pins that she had held in her mouth while her hands were busy sewing, I wrestled with what I would do if I had a calling while being afraid I would swallow pins as soon as I put on my habit.

For some reason, my mom became afraid of lightning. When we two oldest kids were young, she’d always say it was no big deal and my dad would have us count the time lapse between the flash and the boom. It became fun and turned out—even to this day—to be my favorite weather. But all of a sudden I was comforting Mom when she cried out “Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!” when our next-door neighbor’s chimney was struck. A younger sibling took on her fear, only to have to get over it really quickly when, as an adult, she found herself living in Tampa, the Lightning Capital of the World.

As for me, I made a conscious decision to learn to use a pressure cooker. In all fairness to my mom, I think today’s version is safer to use.

Mom never loved thunderstorms, but learned to tolerate them.

But I never became a nun.

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