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Commitment for Naught Soup

It took me eight hours to make the soup, 14 years to realize its lesson. 

I’d made some tactical errors that 20-year-olds are wont to make--falling too fast for a guy because he seemed so nice and then agreeing to elope with him one New Year’s Day just four months after we began dating chief among them. But I was young and a hopeless romantic…and I believed in commitment. 

The romance left soon after our marriage began because it seemed nothing I did made him happy--not my looks, my personality, my dreams for my future. But I'd made a commitment to this marriage and I thought I could fix it if I just tried a little harder.

When he came down with some illness just a few months into our marriage, I seized the opportunity to prove my worth by making whatever ailed him "all better." Despite my attempts to minister to his needs, though, it was not enough and he finally said, “I want my Mom. She'll know what to do.” 

I called her and she (graciously) declined to come to his aid, but she did offer me the miracle cure she had always used for whatever ailed her son--the recipe for her famous cure-all potato soup. 

The recipe was simple enough, and I was not a total kitchen novice, so I decided to give it a try. Perhaps it could cure my husband's illness and maybe cure his (and my) doubts about my value as a wife. I carefully peeled and cubed the potatoes, diced the celery and onion, then piled this triad of healing ingredients into the only suitable cooking vessel I owned at the time--a four-quart Pyrex casserole dish. 

I soon discovered that, ovenproof as Pyrex is, it does not tolerate direct heat from a stovetop burner. This fact became obvious when the dish exploded and sent a hot shower of half-cooked vegetables and Pyrex shards spewing onto my floor and feet. 

Undeterred and committed as I was to proving my wifeliness, I cleaned up the mess, borrowed a bona-fide boiler from a neighbor and returned to my kitchen for another try. 

The second batch cooked without incident, that is until I attempted to drain the potato mixture without benefit of a colander, another basic kitchen item that, having eloped and thus skipped all the pre-wedding showers of helpful kitchen gifts, I did not own. The contents of the boiler plopped into my far-from-sanitary sink. It must have made a noisy plop, or perhaps I cursed too loudly, because somehow my all-suffering husband roused from his stupor to whimper from the bedroom about me trying to poison him. 

I peeled more potatoes and tried again.

Eight hours after I began my inaugural caregiving attempt, I finally ladled up a bowl of white, hot comfort and took it to my ailing groom. He tasted it and, with undisguised disappointment, said, “It’s okay, but it doesn’t taste like Mom’s.”

I let that one go. Marriage is about forgiveness and patience, right? I kept reminding myself of that for the next 14 years, during which time I kept trying to make potato soup--and myself--better. 

I’m not sure what finally made me realize the futility of my commitment to this marriage. I like to joke that it was my ex-husband’s reaction to a scene in the movie “9-1/2 Weeks,” the one where the refrigerator door stays open throughout a rather long and intense rite of passion and control. “Think how much electricity they just wasted,” my ex had said after we watched that movie together. That was not the take-home message I had gotten from that scene and I remember thinking "I don't think he gets it...or me."

But I think it is more likely that I finally diagnosed the problem with my marriage--I made a mistake and no amount of commitment could make it right, not even potato soup.

Natural Medicine

It All Started with Mama Cherokee