Homemade Fig Preserves
Fred Bassett
Back in Alabama, I stop to see Elsie Brewer. Knocking on the farmhouse door, Iím thinking, She may be the next to go. The doorís unlocked... Come on in... Lord aíMercy, itís you, Fred. I been perished to death to see you. Twisted and curled, her hands look helpless like the legs that wonít give her two step. But I see the calloused hands of a girl who had to plow like a man or else her drunkard father, plow rope doubled and doubled again, would beat her to the ground. You might think I get lonesome out here, but they ainít but a few folks I care to see. And thereís that one cousin who helps me out. She taught me how to be a weaver. Lord, Iím glad you never had to work in no cotton mill. Those old textile hands are folded in her lap as she huddles in the wheelchair. But I see the kind hands of a young woman who longed to care for the sick, not knowing that nurses donít nurse from a correspondence course advertised in a dime store magazine. Fred, Iíve got a little something for you before you go. I had a hard time finding figs this year. But what I got turned out good. Leaving, Iím thinking, These will be the last preserves Iíll ever get from her. Do I eat them or store them like memories? My dear old women are dying too fast.

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