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Story ID:214
Written by:Kathe M. Campbell (bio, contact, other stories)
Story type:Musings, Essays and Such
Location:Butte Montana USA
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by Kathe Campbell

Therapy of all kinds is a wondrous thing. I must admit I never thought about it much until I needed it desperately. Then, and only then, did I come to know a place across our state that specializes in orthotics and prosthetics. What was left of my right arm labored hard those first grueling weeks to achieve skill with every prosthesis offered. I finally returned home with a dainty hook, a tough farm and ranch hook most men ran from, and a very fancy mio-electric hand. I called it my, "Go to meetin' arm."

My husband had traded in my old car for a new buggy with automatic everything so I could drive by myself. That first day out was a lark, and it felt good negotiating the curves down our long woodsy mountain onto pavement. I intended to shop for just a few groceries, mainly the fixin's for a velvety cake complete with gooey frosting. I deserved it. I had lost 30 pounds, embraced a passion for cakes, and had sorely missed my kitchen.

Apprehension brought on a few butterflies, but everyone at my favorite grocers made me feel at ease. The last three months had shown me that generally kids were cool and inquisitive around me - not so most adults. Warm smiles and grateful hugs were unexpected from all those I'd been acquainted with for years. So upon much goading, I demonstrated how I could turn my new hand around and open and close the fingers, with fancy painted nails yet. I almost felt worthwhile again.

After tossing a few basics into my cart, I eagerly headed for the baking aisle. There before me stood shelves filled with brand new delights. It was as if all manner of appetizing riches had been breeding in the night to tempt the following day's shoppers. Unfamiliar desserts of every size and flavor were displayed row upon row. New cakes with more complicated steps and fancy pans to bake them in made me positively giddy.

Not today I decided. My mission should be something familiar, something easy to wangle on this, my maiden voyage of handicapped desserts. I selected a new French vanilla cake mix and dropped it in the cart while surveying the huge array of yummy sounding frostings. With teeth clenched and a determined squint, my new mio-electric hand encircled a luscious looking can of chocolate fudge icing on the top shelf. Mid way down, there resonated a loud pop, and the can began spewing showers of sweet ecstasy. The dark contents plopped off my hair and slid down my jacket onto new white shoes. The nooks and crannies of shelves in every direction were adorned in brownish glazed splotches. Even the new coffee grinding machine behind me was slathered in chocolate chaos. Oh dear Lord, where's the nearest exit, I mused while staring at the devastation and the daunting new hand that had not known it's own strength. Only a moment later a comforting arm surrounded my shoulder as the store manager lent words of comfort and encouragement. He apologized for snickering, but felt the incident was just too priceless not to give it a good chuckle.

Was this a prophecy of things to come I pondered as I threw my spotted jacket on a chair at home. While unloading my sack of groceries I wondered what possessed me to act the smart aleck. I vowed then and there to concentrate on being a humble survivor instead of a harebrained showoff. Surely this fiasco would be a hot topic in the Safeway lunchroom for months to come. I cringed at the thought, but knew I must get a grip and begin to laugh at myself, for there stood the old Mixmaster my husband had hauled out that very morning. And despite my first disgrace, the enticing photo on the box still
taunted me with heavenly cake and frosting pangs.

After turning on the oven, I stepped out to tap floured pans over the deck railing. Given short term memory problems after so many surgeries, I paid particular attention to the high altitude directions. With the mix, eggs, water, and oil carefully measured and placed in the bowl, it was time to let 'er rip for the prescribed time. Rubber spatula poised, I flipped the switch and stood thunderstruck while beaters, bowl and spatula catapulted across the floor like a Brahma bull breaking from a rodeo pen.

The phone rang. It was my husband asking how I was doing and how come I sounded like I was coming down with a cold? I told him that . . . sniff sniff . . . cake mixes . . . sniff sniff . . . were my boondoggle. He said he would be home early. And he was, and with a lovely cake box from our grocer's bakery.

I do better after ten years, and in fact, there's very little I can't do as I celebrate the fitting of my fourth new arm. It's simply the nicest imaginable, that is if you're into the latest state of the art right arms. The mechanics run smoother without annoying twang twang twangs, and abundant straps and buckles make for easy adjustments. Best of all, I'm enjoying the latest in soft plastics and teflons with skin-colored tint. My shiny new stainless steel hook serves me in all that I take a shot at, this time leaving frostings, cake batter and hazardous spatulas in the dust.