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  • Elaine Fletcher Chapman

Ordinary Time

Tuesday and I am twenty minutes late to my desk. Frost on the windshield this morning, taking the dog to the field. I drove blindly before the thaw, side windows down, stopped for a school bus. It’s not that I am in a hurry this morning but I don’t have time to waste. My husband cooked our breakfast. When he wants meat, he always cooks before I have time to start the oatmeal, cut the apples. So run the dog. I’ve already made the grocery list: heavy cream, eggs, butter, califlower, mini dog treats. Drop the dog off by the house, drive the several miles to our only grocery store. Follow the list percisly. Oh yes, and paper towels. Arrive back home. Chop, steam, stir, season, melt, spread, and bake. An ordinary Tuesday. My husband got the call Sunday night. Jimmie had died. His son called. Jean, his wife of 64 years left behind. So now a funeral. On Tuesday. I’m baking the dish for the lucheon afterwards. My husband is in his study writing out the service. Since he has been at this church he has buried more than fifty people. Then on Monday another call. Another death. A younger man killed himself over the weekend. He was not a member of the church, but his sister attends regularly and cousins are members. Another funeral, no luncheon. But nevertheless a dish to prepare to take to the home. It’s the rhythm of our lives. Death, dishes, words and comfort food. Cheese and heavy cream. Caynenne pepper. And I have clients to see this afternoon, several. One, traveling the 75 miles to my office. Today is the first of April, National poetry month. I vowed to write a poem everyday. And today it begins with Another death / we believe we were sent here to bury /the dead. / I watch as you kneel. / Today a retired Marine with military honors./ The flag in his front yard at half mast. In this small town I’ve grown accustomed to the dying. I’ve grown accustomed to watching my husband, sincerely embrace the bereaved. His gift, delivering a sermon, especially a sermon of resurrection, as he calls it. What I witness, besides the grieving families, is a church united in making special food. Setting the table with real dishes. No paper plates. Real silverware. Food prepared with love. We look for specialties: that kale salad, the baked pineapple, fried chicken, three bean salad, and Walta’s brownies with fudge icing. An ordinary Tuesday, then the next funeral tomorrow. A abundance of prayers, perhaps German Chocolate cake.

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