It's near the end of the month. Mama looks so sad as she counts the small change in her handbag. Not even enough for a quart of milk. But she smiles at me, and drops the change back into her coin purse.
She opens the refrigerator. We have two hot dogs and a jar of pickles. She heats some water in the little pan, and tosses the dogs in. There are 5 slices of bread left and there is ketchup in the bottle . The three of us kids gather round the table. I'm the biggest, so I take the butter knife and spread a thick layer of ketchup on four of the pieces. Mama slices the dogs into long halves, and rolls each one up in a ketchupy slice of the soft white bread. She places them on a large plate, along with a few pickles, grabs a big blanket, and marches us all out into the common area.
We sit in the shade of a little apple tree. After handing each of us our hotdog sandwich, she pops the cap of one bottle of Coca Cola. We all get a sip. We eat the gooey dogs with big smiles and pass the Cola round again. Mama always knew how to make the simplest fare feel like a feast, and she made sure we never went without. We weren't hungry for food or for love. That hot dog sandwich picnic was one of the best we ever had.
copyright 09/27/09 ajj