Thursday, November 30, 2006

A Taste of Love (Part 1 of 2)

It is 1976, the year of the American bicentennial, and the place is Fayetteville, Arkansas. In the early evening of a long, warm day, a young mother is on her way home from work, her mind on that evening's meal. This is a frequent and typical concern, but on this occasion, the concern is not just one of menu-planning. This time, there's more to worry about.

She's worried because, as is common in these days, since she moved her family to Fayetteville so that her husband could finish the last few credit-hours required to finish his B.S. and go back to coaching, this time as a teacher as well...there is no money. Not only that, but she knows that there are no groceries to speak of in the house. And payday isn't until tomorrow, for either her or her husband.

She even goes so far as to gather up all the loose change in the car, hoping for enough to buy...something--something "decent" to feed her kids tonight. It will just be the girls and their mom tonight, because her husband is working one of his half-dozen jobs after his classes. At least he can eat at work for free. Unfortunately, there isn't enough change to add up to a dollar, much less to buy any real food. So she drives home, and on the way, she prays. She prays for "enough," and she prays with a faith that is solid enough to touch, to feel.

By the time she gets home and takes stock of the contents of the refrigerator, freezer, and pantry, she's nearly distraught. She has always prided herself on making sure that her family is fed well, and nutritiously, with balanced, healthy meals, and it's becoming increasingly obvious that that just isn't going to happen tonight. Her daughters are thrilled to see her, and pass the time that evening before supper playing happily with each other and chattering busily at her about the events of their day.

Having finally made the decision that tonight's priority is just going to be getting some protein and calories into these kids, to fill their bellies enough for a good night's sleep, and last them until tomorrow's trip to the grocery store, she starts to work in the kitchen, in a state of upset. There's a box of macaroni and cheese mix. (She has time to be grateful that this meal is going to be "just us girls," because if there's any meal that is NOT a "husband-pleaser" in this family, it's boxed mac & cheese. Oh, he'll eat it, and thank her for making it, and never complain...but he'll do that tell-tale thing where he sits slightly sideways in his chair at the dinner table, as if to make a quicker getaway once the meal's complete. They've been married about 13 years at this point, and she knows his "tells.") There, in the bottom of the refrigerator, two--just two--hot dogs. A can of refrigerated biscuit dough. A can of pork & beans. And just enough milk to mix with the macaroni and give each of the two girls a small glass to drink. No green vegetable, but she can make up for that tomorrow. She goes to work with what she has, teeth gritted and fighting back tears, but wearing a brave, happy face for her daughters, who seem to just be happy to be there with her and with each other.

It's not much, so it doesn't take long to prepare. She sets the table, fixes plates, calls the girls, and sits down at the little table with them, preparing to say the blessing.


To be continued. For "the rest of the story," come back tomorrow. Happy Love Thursday and Last Day of NABLOPOMO, everyone!

13 comments:

  1. happy last day to you belinda and family...

    happy hoidays,

    jess
    xxoo

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  2. I just want to report that, after reading this post, my dear husband turned to me and asked, "What's NABLOPOMO?"

    Seriously.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Uhhh, why you treat me so bad???
    I NEED TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS!!!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thanks for the tear-jerker cliff hanger.

    What a way to start a Friday.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I'm probably going to have tears in my eyes until I read the rest of this story!

    ReplyDelete
  6. AHA! I know the "rest of this story!"

    And I'm certainly NOT above selling it to the highest bidder! ;-)

    (very evil grin)

    ReplyDelete
  7. I'm looking forward to the rest of the story.

    Congrats on finishing NABLOPOMO!!

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