‘Death’ leaves hole in my heart and kitchen wall

The Sunday Column

You don’t expect it and you certainly don’t plan for it, but all at once out of the blue, it happens.

You suffer a loss that puts a hole in your heart and changes your life, and that recently happened to me. Thank God it wasn’t a person, for those losses can be and often are tragic and life-changing.

It wasn’t a beloved pet, either, because as pet lovers know, losing a pet can be life altering, as well. No, in my case it wasn’t a living thing, but I did not realize how important it was until it was gone.

The day started innocently enough as I turned on Fox News, poured a glass of orange juice and put a Jimmy Dean breakfast sandwich into the microwave. I closed the door and pressed the button. I had done this many times before. It was like crossing the street; you look both ways, but you do not expect to get hit by a car.

In an instant, I knew something was wrong. The microwave platter had only made about a quarter of a turn when it groaned to a stop as the light faded out.

I checked and reset the electrical breaker, returned to the kitchen and with great care slowly pushed the button one more time. A flicker of light, a slight groan and silence. It was over in a split second. I am sure it didn’t suffer, but it seemed obvious, the microwave was — dead. It had been a good microwave and served us well, but its time had passed.

My wife suggested we call a repairman, but unfortunately when it comes to microwaves, it costs between $75 and $100 for someone to come to your house and tell you what you already know: that it costs more to fix a microwave than it does to buy a new one.

That might normally be true, but this microwave was a microwave and convection oven plus it was built into a remodeled kitchen that cost slightly more than a new car.

The choice seemed simple: Go out and buy a new model just like the dead one. That seemed like a good idea until I found out that they no longer make the model with which we had lived very happily until that dark morning.

OK, I wear big boy pants so I accepted the fact that I would have to buy a different model but obviously one that fit the hole in my cabinets where the old microwave used to live. Wrong! It seems that appliance designers are similar to waterboard interrogators. They love to make people miserable a little at a time. They occasionally change the outside dimensions of appliances so they just quite don’t fit where the old ones did.

I am now in the process of checking every appliance on the market from every manufacturer looking for one slightly smaller or slightly bigger, a different color or with a smaller handle or no handle.

The fact that the cabinets were built to a custom size around the old microwave and the backsplash tile, which was special ordered from Italy and now has to have one row removed, makes me think this is not going to be easy or cheap. My wife has already suggested updating the entire kitchen, which means a new everything.

I had considered simply putting the old microwave back on the wall and forgetting the whole problem, but it is amazing how many times I walk over to the hole in the wall with a bowl of soup or a cup of hot chocolate only to stand there broken hearted.

It seems as if the only solution is to redo the kitchen, but if that happens, I intend to buy three of every appliance I install. While that may sound expensive, it gives me at least two more chances to cope with failed appliances without ripping my kitchen apart.

But trying to apply some logic to the problem, I would also need to buy a lifetime supply of Jimmy Dean breakfast sandwiches in case they stop making them. That means I will need to get a bigger freezer to store them in. I wonder if that means I will need to buy a second freezer as a backup?

I knew I should have tried harder to save my original microwave, but I can see the headline in the Mirror now: “Man electrocuted giving microwave CPR.”

John Kasun writes from his home in Duncansville, where he is warming a cup of hot chocolate over a candle.