The Last Gasp of the Potato Rock

When we were growing up my Mom used to keep 20 lb sacks of potatoes in the garage for use in cooking. One of her favorite recipes (and my least favorite) was a Sunday Roast which required several peeled potatoes and a pot roast.

While digging out in the neighboring vacant lots, my brothers and I encountered a rounded river rock that looked surprisingly like an Idaho Potato. It had dirt caked in all the right places, felt similar to the touch and had the same mass of a typical potato, so we did what any other kid would do- we put that rock in Mom’s potato sack and just waited for Sunday Roast.

Sunday came ’round and Mom was surprised when all three of her boys watched her try to peel potatoes, each with a grin on their face. Out came the potato-rock and we watched as Mom sparked the peeler against the hard surface of the rock and we each burst out with howling laughter. “Very funny boys!” she scolded and tossed the rock into the trash.

We pulled that rock out of the trash and put that rock right back in the potato sack. This trick went on for years. Mom even tried to hurl the rock over the fence into a vacant lot, but we hunted that rock down and stuck it back in her potato sack again. If the rock got too clean looking, we would grind it into the dirt to simulate standard potato grit. The damn rock even looked like it had eyes. Mom even became accustomed to thumping each of her potatoes with a spoon to test for density, screeching at us each time she encountered that accursed potato-rock.

When Mom died yesterday morning at 2:30 AM, my other two brothers were sharing a bedside vigil. They watched as her breathing quickened, became more shallow, and gasped to a halt. This breathing pattern was a radical change from the rhythmic comatose gasps she had been taking for about 8 hours prior. They waited several minutes, coming to grips with her passing- holding her hands and telling her they loved her, and that it was okay to let go.

After ten minutes of prayer and silence, and my brothers still holding her hands, Mom suddenly gasped out a loud soprano moan- simply some built-up pressure still remaining within her lungs. My kid brother almost sharted himself at the sudden outburst. My older brother jumped too. And when their adrenaline subsided, my older brother turned to my younger brother and said, “That was for the potato rock!”

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