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Abby smiled. “It seems your daughter has donated her spice rack to the making of mud pies.”

Leta wondered, “I wonder if she knows she’s donated it?”

“Oh, look closer. Look at the corner of the house.” Indeed, there at the right corner of the house, right at the very edge, stood LaVerne, barely peeking around the corner to watch what the girl was doing. For a moment, she looked out at the land around her and it was as if she could see Leta and Abby watching her watch them. But then she shook her head and switched her attention back to the girl who was now gently mixing the mud with the spice. Her hands were dirty and the mud began to dry on them. She began rubbing her hands together and sent knots of mud onto the concrete patio. Making a mess. LaVerne turned away, knowing she would have to sweep the walk before she would be able to sleep that night.

The girl finally went to the side of the house to rinse her hands from the spigot there. In her way, she sprayed water on the side of the house, along with the dust and the dirt. She took her small hand and tried to clean the side of the house with it, only leaving muddy smears on the once immaculate house. She turned off the water, and walked away, obviously hoping that no one would notice what she had done. She sat next to her drying mud pie with her feet in the grass. She looked out at the road and counted the passing cars, never noticing the house or the women who sat inside.

Abby looked back to her sock, she had misworked some stitches and now set about removing them. She thought for a moment and then said, “It was hard to lose your father when I did.”

Lena sat up with a jolt. Her mother never spoke of her father. She had kept one small photo of him out where the girls could see him, otherwise, there was no mention made of him.

Abby continued as if she had not noticed that she had startled her daughter with her words. “While you said that you never thought that losing the babies hurt, I never thought of how old our ancestors were when they were dealing with real life until I lost your father.” She focused on the stitches, never looking up at Leta while she spoke. “I was 18 when I married him, The same age you were when you married your Charley. Two years younger than your LaVerne when she married her Charles. Two years older than my own mother when she married my father. I was 19 when Glennie was born and 21 when she died. I was 21 when I had Grace, 26 when I had you, and 28 when your father died and I had Josephine right after he died. Twenty eight years old and I was a widow with three children. It was seven years before I decided to marry Bud, never imagining that I would have Bob at the age of 42. Forty two! You made me a grandmother when your brother was four years old! I never thought I’d have children in different generations! But then, I never imagined a lot of things that happened in my life.”

Leta sat and digested this. She had never thought much about the ages of her mother when these things happened. Leta thought that being 31 with a sick child was a lot of God to ask her to handle. The way her mother was so expressionless as she listed off the ages at which she had been handed much much more to deal with made Leta contemplate her in a new light. Again. She found that her relationship with her mother was ever changing, it was never simple, never black and white. Which was odd considering Abby showed the world a face that never allowed you to consider shades of grey. Actions were either Godly or not Godly and there was no middle ground in the house of Abby.

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