The week after Daddy’s funeral, it stormed. Bad. I woke to the sound of wind. Rain.
And piano music.
I walked downstairs to see our den full of ladies dusting, sweeping, mopping. One woman was even playing our hallway spinet.
“Morning,” said my aunt, kissing my forehead. “You want breakfast?”
No. I didn’t.
I hadn’t been hungry for weeks. I’d lost weight because of it. The only things I could choke down were milkshakes. And it’s because of this, I haven’t touched one since my voice dropped.
My aunt led me to the kitchen.
It was crowded. Ladies in aprons, standing at workstations, dusting things with flour. Almost every surface held poundcakes, layer cakes, bunt cakes, or cookies.
I received three hugs, ten kisses, and one stiff pat on the hindsection.
My aunt made a milkshake by hand, then said, “Get some chocolate cake, too. It’s GOT to get eaten before it goes bad.”
That woman. She was made of sugar and spice, and all kinds of bacon grease.
I wandered to the porch, sipping a milkshake, eating cake. I found my uncle on the swing, listening to the rain make noise, the same sound TV static makes.
“Ain’t they something?” he said, spitting into a mug. “All them busy ladies.”
He laughed. “You know what they call life without women?”
“They call it suffering.”
Well, I’d counted nearly twelve females in our house—not including the piano-player. Laughter came from the kitchen. Music from the den. I guess we weren’t suffering too bad.
Then, the screen door slapped. A young lady came onto the porch with two more plates of chocolate cake.
My uncle stood when he saw the girl. I stood with him—which is something my people do in the presence of females.
He thank-you-ma’amed her. So did I.
He handed me his cake and said, “You’re gonna have to eat mine, I already gotta mouthful of spit.”
So, I did.
Anyway, yesterday I woke to the sounds of thunder. A pine tree behind our house got hit by lightning. The apocalyptic noise rattled me awake.
And when I wandered out of the bedroom, I expected to see our house torn apart.
I didn’t. What I found was our kitchen, humming with energy. And it took me back in time. My wife had prepared breakfast big enough for a first-string varsity lineup.
She said, “I sure as hell hope you’re hungry.”
Hungry. As it happens, nowadays I am hungry—though sometimes this world tries to steal a man’s appetite. And I’m more than that. I’m alive.
And none of it was my doing. It was God’s own army who saved me. Wingless ambassadors, who’ve taken the time to water me like a house-plant.
They may look like aunts, mamas, sisters, and wives. But they’re far more than that.
They are women.
And life without them is called suffering.