[dropcap]W[/dropcap]hen I was sixteen, my mother left our town for Atlanta. She was gone three weeks, visiting my aunt while I stayed behind at home. I had the whole house to myself. In the mornings, I fed goats and chickens. In the daytime, I fished for small mouth bass. For supper, I ate Hamburger Helper and watched Abbot and Costello movies. I went weeks without speaking to a soul – except for Mother’s phone calls.
It was glorious.
One night, at two in the morning, I awoke to banging on the kitchen door. It scared the bejesus out of me. I flew downstairs and saw my friend Patrick behind the screen door. Patrick, who was my age, had driven his truck through our adjoining fields and parked right on top mother’s garden. And it’s a good thing Mother wasn’t there, she would’ve strung him up by his tongue for that.
I could see Patrick was crying. I opened the screen door. “What’s wrong, Pat?”
“My dad,” Patrick said. “H-h-he’s left my mom. They’re getting divorced, I just got in the truck and started driving.”
My heart sank. I didn’t know what to do. Boys don’t cry in front of each other like that. It’s against the rules. All I could think to do was fire up the kitchen stove. And that’s exactly what I did. I cooked pancakes, bacon, eggs, sausage, grits, and hash browns. We ate until we were good and sick.
I wish I would’ve known what to say to Pat during that situation. Something compassionate and wise. But I was only sixteen.
And all I knew how to do was make pancakes.