My dinner parties use to be held in a formal dining room with fine china, sterling silver, and linen napkins. Now it’s held on my screened-in porch with disposable plates, plastic ware, and a roll of paper towels. The reason for the change was because my husband shot himself.
I was born rich and pampered, in others words a spoiled snob. The latest designer fashions hung in my large walk-in closet. I shopped at the most exclusive stores. I traveled the world with friends who were the elite of society.
In one brief moment my rich life style ended. My husband had swindled me and many others out of millions. Facing embellishment charges he shot himself in the side of the head. After twenty five years of marriage I came to realize he loved the money, not me. I filed for bankruptcy and sold what I could. My elite friends had nothing to do with me. I wanted to find some remote place and hide out.
I had just enough money to buy an old double wide trailer that sat on a dead end road. Living nearby were my four neighbors. Alice, a ninety-two year old widow, lived in small farm house. Out back in a travel trailer lived her son’s best friend, Jake. When her son died from an overdose Jake, a man in his forties who been through hard times, moved in to take care of her. Carl and Norma owned a double wide that sat up by the main road. This married couple was what one would call good country folk.
I found the light of my life, Norma. Through a dark time she showed me how to be rich without the need of money. To furnish my place she took me to garage sales and thrift stores. She and I picked sand plums for homemade jelly and wild rhubarb for strawberry-rhubarb crisp. She and Carl were married close to fifty years. At her family cook-outs Alice, Jake, and I were included. Every Sunday in her mini van she and Carl took Alice, Jake, and I to church. She filled her home with grandkids, lost souls, and Jesus.
I had everything ready for the fish fry when Norma came walking down the road. Arriving at the porch I asked her,” Where is everyone?”
“Alice lost her teeth again. Carl stayed to help Jake go through the trash. I decided to walk down to see if you needed any help.”
I laughed, and said, “Alice has to stop wrapping her teeth up in paper towel. You can help me shuck the corn. Want a glass of sweet tea?”
Under a large oak tree Norma and I sat on lawn chairs shucking the husks and silk off the corn. We dropped the cleaned ears into an empty ice chest.
Norma picking at the corn silk said, “Don’t let me forget. In the truck I have photos of our fishing trip for Alice. That one of you is such a hoot.”
“I’m good for a laugh or two. For dessert I made a strawberry-rhubarb crisp. I’m thinking about making one for the church bake sale. Finish up what’s left in the freezer.”
Pushing the husks and silks down into a plastic garbage bag Norma said, “If we don’t get rain soon there won’t be any garden this year.”
Carl’s old red truck pulled into the gravel driveway. He crawled out on the driver’s side, and said, “Dark cloud in the west, we might get some rain. Alice found her teeth down the side of her recliner.”
On the passenger side Jake helped Alice out of the truck. She asked him, “Did you remember to turn on the porch light?”
Jake answered her with a teasing smile, “Alice, your front porch light is on but nobody’s home.” Leaning on her cane she shook her fist at him.
On the front porch swing sat Alice drinking a glass of sweet tea. In one turkey fryer full of hot peanut oil Jake and Carl cooked cat fish and hush puppies. In the other turkey fryer Norma and I dropped ears of corn into hot boiling water.
On top of the picnic table laid a platter that held a pile of crispy fried cat fish with a bowl full of golden brown hush puppies and a roasting pan stacked high with bright yellow corn on the cob. With everyone gathered at the table holding hands Carl gave the blessing.
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