“Maggie, poor dear, got a perm yesterday and now her hair is a frizz ball. I don’t know what possessed her to do that because her hair was just fine before. I suppose she saw that I had a new hair style and wanted to do something new too.” Della rambled as she flipped the omelet in the pan and poured another cup of coffee for her husband.
“Yeah, I suppose.” Joe held his cup up for a refill, never taking his eyes off of his newspaper.
“Becca, your breakfast is ready!” She yelled over her shoulder as she plated the omelet, added a slice of toast, and poured orange juice into a glass.
Becca raced into the kitchen, wolfed down her food while grabbing her bag. As she headed for the door, toast crumbs sprayed out her mouth when she announced, “I’m late, gotta go.”
Della grabbed her shoulder and spun her around. With raised eyebrows, she looked her over from head to toe. “What are you wearing? That shirt is absolutely hideous and those jeans need to go in the rag bag. Didn’t I teach you anything about fashion? You absolutely can’t go out in public looking like that! What will people think of me?”
Becca rolled her eyes and left out a sigh. “Mother, this is what everyone’s wearing, so get off my back.“
She turned and slammed out the kitchen door without another word.
Della gestured to the now empty doorway. “Did you just see how your daughter treated me?”
Joe glanced up from his paper. “Yeah—so?”
Standing with her hands on her hips and shaking her index finger at him she yelled, “I swear, you are just as bad as she is. You never listen to me. What kind of father are you not to discipline your daughter? What kind of husband are you not to stand up for me?”
Purposefully he closed his paper and stood. He walked around the table and faced her. “I agree that Becca was disrespectful to you, but you haven’t had one nice word to say about anybody all day. I love you, but you’ve got to learn to curb your sharp tongue or someday you’ll be very lonely.”
She stood with her mouth hanging open, while he grabbed his keys and wallet from the table. He lifted her chin up with his finger, looked into her eyes and leaned over to kiss her mouth. “Think about what I’ve said, okay?”
As she cleaned up the kitchen, she spoke out loud to the empty room. “I think he’s wrong. I simply speak the truth. Everyone wants to hear the truth, right?”
After finishing her housework, she looked with longing at the in-ground pool. “I’m going to take a dip, then go to the store.” So, she donned her swimsuit, grabbed a towel and headed outside.
After swimming a few laps, she collapsed onto a lawn chair. The feel of the warm sun on her back made her drowsy and before long she drifted off.
She dreamed that her family and friends surrounded her at a grand party. She started talking with Maggie, when all of a sudden her tongue became a sharp dagger, slaying first Maggie, then everyone in the room, including Joe and Becca. Finally, she stood in an empty room with tears streaming down her cheeks.
She woke to the sounds of her own sobs. “No, No. I didn’t mean to. I’ll be nice, I promise."
She knelt beside her lawn chair, uncaring of the hard rough concrete beneath her knees. “Lord, thank you for a husband who loves me enough to tell me the truth. Dull my sharp tongue. Help me to be an encourager, not a discourager.”
In the weeks and months that followed, their home was one of smiles and laughter. Often, company dined at their table, many times strangers who had accepted an invitation from Della.
On one such evening, after being complimented on their hospitality, Della reached over and squeezed Joe’s hand. “I had a revelation a few months back. Some guy who happens to be as ‘sharp as a tack’, gave me a lesson in how being dull is a good thing.” She caught his eye and winked.
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