The old maple tree shaded the back porch where the elderly couple sat. Irene shifted in her chair to look at Hal, who was nodding off beside her. “Wake up, Dad. You won’t sleep tonight.”
Hal spent a lot of time sleeping these days. He opened one eye and looked at his bride of nearly sixty years. “I’m just restin’ my eyes.”
“Well, you were snorin’.”
The two sat in comfortable silence watching the hummingbirds at the feeder. Irene reached over and patted her husband’s knee. “Cute, ain’t they? Their wings are beating so fast, you can’t even see ‘em.”
“Who’s eatin’ so fast?” Hal didn’t hear so well these days, either.
“I said the hummingbird’s wings are beatin’ so fast.”
“Oh. Let’s have a glass of tea, Mama.”
Irene rose to go get their tea. When she returned, Hal had fallen asleep again. “Hal, wake up. Here’s your tea.”
He yawned and reached for the glass she handed him. “You make the best sweet tea there ever was. You know, Mama, I think I want fried dill pickles for supper. Then I want a Twinkie for dessert.”
Irene whipped her head around and looked at Hal. “Fried dill pickles and Twinkies? Heavens, what a combination. Besides, you know the doctor wouldn’t approve of that a’tall. He said no fried stuff, and I say Twinkies ain’t good for nobody.”
“Fryin’ won’t make ‘em tough. Never does. Besides, what do I care what the doctor says? The Lord only gives us so many days on this earth anyway. I’d like to enjoy the ones I got left.”
“Dad, I said the doctor said no fried stuff. I didn’t say it would make the pickles tough. I want you to do what the doc says. Besides, I’d like to keep you around as long as possible.”
Hal sat his glass of tea down on the side table next to his chair. He leaned forward, elbows on his knees, and tented his fingers. Irene knew the pose well. He was thinking. Hal was a patient man, but he could be inflexible, too. When he wanted something, he usually didn’t let it go, but instead pursued it in his iron-willed way.
“We got Twinkies, don’t we?”
“Yes, we have some.”
“Why’d you buy ‘em if they ain’t good for nobody?”
“I bought ‘em for the great grandkids. Little kids are the exception to the rule. Twinkies won’t hurt them none. They’ll just run them off in no time anyhow.”
Hal nodded, and swatted a fly away from his glass. “I guess we could have a salad and some of that whole wheat bread if you think that’d be better.”
“Well, Dad, it would be better for you. You’d be mindin’ the doc that way, too.”
“Butter for me? Now you’re talkin’, and I agree. I think we should be findin’ a new doc, too, Ma.”
Irene started to tell Hal what she had really said, but decided against it. Suppressing a grin, she looked at his features. His ears were a little too big for his head, and he had a small scar under his left eye. He’d had it ever since she had known him. Claimed his brother gave it to him in a scuffle when they were kids. His velvet brown eyes had always weakened her. She reflected on their years together. Hal had been an excellent provider for her and their four children. He was patient and understanding, although she would have to say stubborn, too. With each passing day, she loved him more than the day she married him.
“Speakin’ of supper, it’s about time for me to go fix it. Let’s eat it out here on the porch.”
Irene left to go fix their supper, and Hal nodded off in his chair. He awoke to a gentle touch on his shoulder.
Irene was standing beside him holding a pretty silver tray. “Here’s your supper, Dad.” The tray held a fresh glass of tea, a plate of fried dill pickles, and two Twinkies.
Hal grinned broadly. “Let’s eat dessert first, Mama.”
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