A brilliantly simple idea for an emergency torch; make a wick out of paper toweling, insert into a hole pierced into the top of a tuna can (packed in oil) and it will burn for 2-3 hours, leaving edible tuna at the end.
This reminded me of a sad history I have with tuna. It was a short time after a tragic loss in my family, the passing of my grandmother, primary care giver, surrogate mother to 3, and the heart of the family.
Her sudden cardiac arrest left us a broken family. My mother was hospitalized with shock and subsequent severe depression for several weeks immediately following. We were pulled out of school and shipped off to relatives in distant places; presumably to spare us the grief and sorrow of the funeral.
What we came home to was a bit of a nightmare. I’m not sure the absence had the desired result. We were hurt, confused, fearful and uncertain of our future without the woman who had nurtured us since birth. The arrangement used to make sense for them. Grandmom would assume the role of “stay at home” mom, allowing our own mother to earn an income; rare for the baby booming generation.
Mom was now to give up that non-traditional role of second breadwinner and was thrust into a world for which she was not prepared. Homemaker and mom; to 3 young hurting children.
She was no doubt medicated when she returned from the hospital; there was talk of lithium and maybe some early anti-depressants; not really sure of the details.
She put on a good face for our dad, allowing him to return to work and resume some sort of normalcy. We got to see the other face; the one of desperation.
There was an 8 month old infant that required the most attention; I was 6, my other sister was 8. We were old enough to try to help, in any way that we could, for her to manage on a day to day basis.
There was that day we decided to make lunch. Tuna fish sandwiches. Seems simple enough ? My sister had trouble with the can opener; the lid split open and she dropped the can. The oily, fishy liquid went everywhere. My mother fell apart.
First, she exploded with anger and cruel criticism. She might have taken a swat at us, maybe not. Moments later, she was on the floor in tears. A sort of confession ensued…she would never be good at this…how can she go forward…why did she have so many kids…why did her mother in law abandon them so suddenly…what was she going to do now ?
I have little memory beyond her painful soliloquy. We left the room in fear and shame.
We did not, could not console her; we were just babies. It had happened in small doses often, this was one of the worst yet. Our dad, dealing with his own stress and grief, had no idea. If he had, he never would have left us alone with her. He had little choice. And we were rapidly losing our childhood.
This time, the trigger was a can of tuna. Sometimes today, I still have difficulty opening those cans.