fiction

Miss Brenda

openkitchenThere was on old lady who lived in a shoe she had so many children, she always knew what to do.  Ms. Brenda a mother of eight who lived in a house too small for a family of 4, it was three rooms deep and maybe 10 feet wide, a Baltimore row home.  She made do with what she had which was lots of never-ending, unconditional love for all who knew her.  The house bulged with kids. When her grandfather, she always called him daaa-d-d-y with that delightful tinge of a Carolina drawl, was at the end of his life and needed taking care of the house bulged just a little bit more.  When daddy came to stay the middle room became a hospice, the dinning table replaced with a hospital bed.  This is where he would spend his final days having Ms. Brenda’s loving care.

Each child moved out just within walking distance to her home, some even on the same block.  What a wonderful childhood life to have been one of Ms Brenda’s 40 grandkids.  If they got into trouble at home, they went to grandma’s. cowsinstreet Every day after school, some would stop by to see her. One time she was so tired, she locked the front door hoping that she could get some rest.  That did not stop Marco, six years of age. He put a note through the mail slot, which read, “Open up grandma.”  We would laugh at the stories of all the children.

Ms Brenda and I worked together at the restaurant for almost 25 years.  She could be stubborn. If she did not want to carry out one of my requests, she would simply say, “If I get around to it”, which meant my appeal was being denied. With great flair she did all the baking of desserts and counseled many of the younger employees with her wisdom.  Ms Brenda balanced raising her children and working and still did her job as mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. She never waivered, she always lectured on right and wrong and how God had blessed her family.

Every morning through out the years, she would make a pot of coffee for the two of us, before anyone else arrived.  Then we would sit and smoke two cigarettes. We talked about our ladyunderdryerlives, family, friends our beliefs and work. Mostly we discussed problems with employees, like the waitress who use to pick  her toes after the lunch rush and how could we get her to stop.  The restaurant closed several years ago but she and I still carry on the tradition of sharing our lives.  Russell, her husband, recently said, “You two have the longest running love affair” we both just smiled and nodded in agreement.  I am selfish. I will want one more good talk but as Brenda always said, “it’s in God’s hands now.”

Wayne Brokke is a former restauranteur, raconteur, TV chef, and cookbook author (I Can Cook, You Can Cook). He can also drink more than most other humans.

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