By Melissa L. Webb
Betty Joe pulled the ground meat out of the pan and tossed it into the bowl next to the oven. She tasted it, adding a pinch of salt. This was going to be a wonderful addition to her stuffing this year. Her family was going to love it.
She quickly threw the stuffing together, setting it in the middle of the table with the rest of the feast. A knock sounded on the front door. Done just in time. Straightening the front of her apron, she hurried to the door.
“Hello,” she greeted as she opened it.
“Happy Thanksgiving, Mom,” a woman said, pressing a quick kiss to her cheek, before pulling two children in behind her.
“Grandma,” they squealed, throwing themselves against her, disappearing in her arms.
“My darlings. Look how you’ve grown,” she cooed to them.
They giggled in delight as she turned back to her daughter. “Where’s that wonderful man of yours?”
“He’s outside talking to Robert and Dana. They pulled up the same time as we did,” she told her, taking off her coat. “It smells wonderful in here, Mom.”
“Thank you,” Betty Joe said, proud as ever of her Thanksgiving dinner. She smiled down at her grandchildren. “Why don’t you two go play in the living room until we’re ready to eat? I think there might be some new toys out there.”
They cheered, racing each other to the toys.
“You didn’t have to do that. They already look forward to coming here.”
“Now, hush. It’s a grandmother’s right to spoil her grandbabies.” Turning, she headed back to the kitchen, her eyes searching for anything she’d forgotten.
Her daughter followed behind her. “Where’s Dad? I would have thought he’d be in here, underfoot.”
Betty Joe waved a hand absently at her. “He’s on a business trip. And, I say good riddance. He ruins every holiday we have together.”
“He’s not that bad, Mom. He’s just an old man set in his ways.”
“No. He’s horrible. You didn’t see it because you weren’t married to him. But any kindness that was in your father has dried up now,” she told her, grabbing plates out of the cupboard. “He’s been around here more since I’ve divorced him than when we were married. I can’t take it anymore. I just can’t.”
“It’s okay, Mom,” she said, placing a hand on her arm. “We’ll figure out something.”
Betty Joe shrugged as she grabbed silverware, placing them on top of the dishes. “I’ve sat down some ground rules. I think things will much better now.”
“Good,” her daughter said, taking the stack of plates. “I just want you to be happy.”
“Oh, I will be. Come on, food’s getting cold,” she said and went to fetch the children.
Betty Joe looked around the table and felt tears in her eyes. Her daughter and her family and her son and his wife. These were the only people she needed at her table. She was glad that monster of an ex-husband would never be here again, ruining it with the negativity flowing from his mouth.
She grabbed a chunk of stuffing from her plate with her fork, placing it in her mouth. The richness of the special meat coated her tongue. Her ex-husband had finally done something right. He had found his purpose in life.
Her granddaughter looked up at her, swallowing her own mouthful of stuffing. “Grandma, do you think Grandpa is thinking of us?”
Betty Joe couldn’t help but smile as she speared another chuck of the meat. “Oh, I’m sure he’s here in spirit, dear.”
© 2011 Melissa L. Webb
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