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Previous Challenge Entry
Topic: Poor (10/25/04)

By Jackie McCauley


“Poor?” Surprised at the question, I turned from washing dishes to look at my seven- year-old little Angel as she insisted, “Well, are we? Are we poor, mommy?” Now, we Southerners use the word “poor” loosely and regularly. For example, there is “Poor Ol’ Joe,” a local, taken to hanging out at the corner store ever since his manager’s position at the factory was outsourced to China. He sits at a table next to the coffee pot reading a newspaper or staring out the window. Sometimes he sits all day. His wife left him after his severance pay ran out. I heard from Alice, a member of our church, that Joe’s wife is living with a former minister in the next town! My cousin, Meg, is sure that Poor Ol’ Joe’s wife is expecting. Of course, she isn’t Joe’s wife anymore since their divorce, but we still call her that at the ladies committee prayer meetings on Tuesday nights. My neighbor, Alice Carmichael, is President of the ladies committee, and my cousin, Meg Smith, is Secretary and I, Lucy Adams, have been Treasurer for six years. We are in charge of the church benevolence committee. We have been meeting every Tuesday night for nearly eight years. Poor Ol’ Joe! Imagine after all those years of wanting a child.
Then there is “Poor Miss Sharon,” a young widow with five children who has recently begun attending our church. Margaret Brown, the newest member of our ladies group (though not an officer) told me that Miss Sharon’s husband had done himself in when his tech stocks went bust. Margaret’s husband is a physician so she always lets us know if one of our own church members is in the hospital - so we can have prayer for them at the ladies meeting. Poor fellow! Those poor children! We are putting together a Christmas basket for Miss Sharon and we took over a Thanksgiving meal last week. The ladies group generously approved $25 to purchase a turkey and trimmings and the children helped me prepare it. It was a lot of work on top of all the decorating I had to do at the church, but it was a good lesson for the children. At first, Tommy, only five years old, was confused about how a turkey and apple pie would help. I explained that although Miss Sharon wore tight skirts and lots of make-up we needed to set a Christian example and help others in need. I looked at Angel with the question still on her face. Maybe it was because I had not allowed her new friend, Andrea, to sleep over, I mused.
Andrea’s family had recently moved into our neighborhood and we had seen Andrea at the park quite a few times, but her mother did not appear to be very friendly. She sat clear across the park while the girls played together. Not wanting to hurt little Angel’s feelings and disappoint her, I had told her that we did not have enough pot roast prepared for company, but, of course, I had heard from Alice at the ladies meeting that Andrea’s parents did not attend church, not even the black church in the city! I did not want my Angel to be influenced. After all, the Bible says that bad company corrupts good character!
“Why do you ask, dear?” I sat next to little Angel at the kitchen table where she was putting together a puzzle of the fifty states. Remembering the purchase at the church bazaar last summer, I was pleased at the addition to our home school geography unit. I didn’t usually go to yard sales, but this one was a special sale to raise money for new choir robes. I knew we really needed robes because last year during the Christmas Program, I noticed Lavern Smith’s robe had a huge tear in the seam and a stained sleeve. I was so embarrassed! My husband’s family from Taylorsville and my cousins from up North were there. I couldn’t even concentrate on the program because of those old robes and had told the pastor so right after the service. But the new choir robes were beautiful! I couldn’t wait until Christmas!
Anyway, it was Saturday, not even a school day and Angel was working on the geography puzzle.
“Of course we are not poor, sweetie, why would you ask such a thing?”
“I don’t know, Mommy, I was just wondering.”

Member Comments
Member Date
Corinne Smelker 11/01/04
Yep - those with narrow minds have poor perceptions - well done. My only suggestion would be to make the ending just a little stronger, I felt like it got "dropped" a bit. I know the 750 word limit doesn't help!