The Rockwood family microwave, affectionately called “Mike,” died suddenly in the home on August 6, 2015 while attempting to reheat day-old pizza. It was 10 years old.
The microwave is survived by two adult roommates, three children and a matching dishwasher, stove, oven and refrigerator. It also leaves behind two bags of frozen chicken nuggets, several cans of soup and a pantry full of microwave popcorn.
Born into the family during the Great Kitchen Remodel of 2005, the microwave served admirably during its decade-long life, heating everything from baby food to bacon. Its kitchen timer ticked steadily through years’ worth of mandatory 20-minute piano practices, while the family’s mother listened from the next room.
“How much longer does the microwave say I have to practice, Mom?”
“Twelve more minutes. Now keep playing.”
The microwave witnessed many family milestones – baby’s first bite of solid food, first steps, birthday meals, Christmas cookie baking, and weekly Sunday lunches lovingly prepared by the family’s Memaw, who always knew just how to push the microwave’s buttons.
As the kids grew, it was “Mike” that taught them the valuable lesson every child must learn the hard way at one time or another: Never put aluminum foil in the microwave. (The children will never forget the shower of sparks they saw that day.)
The family has been dealing with the shock of this loss for many days now. It’s even worse than the Ravioli Explosion of 2009 which left the microwave looking like a crime scene. The mother and most loyal user of the microwave has been stunned by its sudden departure.
“I just didn’t realize how much we needed it until it was gone,” she said. “We haven’t been able to eat microwave popcorn since the day it happened. We just can’t do it.”
The microwave was a devoted appliance and avid re-heater, known for its accessibility and easy-going personality. It wasn’t like most microwaves that slowly rotate their trays. This one defied cultural norms with its side-to-side “gliding tray,” an innovation the family had never seen when they brought it home 10 years ago.
When the family’s children learned to cook, it was the microwave they leaned on most in their time of hunger. Jack, the middle child and most enthusiastic cook in the household, was recently overheard saying, “I keep going to the microwave to put something in there, and then I remember. It’s gone.”
Even the family cat has been lost since the appliance’s passing because the microwave’s over-the-range nightlight has gone dark, leaving the fat feline to eat her Fancy Feast cat food in a pitch-black kitchen.
The family has survived by relying on old-school methods of food preparation, like boiling hot dogs on the stove. The kids said it was “weird and takes too long,” proof that their grief is still palpable. Good old “Mike” will be deeply missed.
The family said the best way to celebrate the microwave’s life and service is to welcome a new appliance into the home and continue the tradition of heating, timing and night-light shining. So it is with great joy that they announce the birth of a new microwave that arrived on August 17th, measuring 2.1 cubic feet, named Maytag or “May” for short. May’s sing-song chime which signals that the food is heated has brought happiness back into the kitchen.
Even so, the family will never forget “Mike” and the many times it heated up leftover lasagna. They hope the machine has found its rest and that its signature “gliding tray” might still be floating side-to-side in a much better place.
Gwen Rockwood is a mom to three great kids, wife to one cool guy, a newspaper columnist and co-owner of nwaMotherlode.com. To read previously published installments of The Rockwood Files, click here. To check out Gwen’s book, “Reporting Live from the Laundry Pile: The Rockwood Files Collection,” click HERE.