|Jeanette, sister to Kent, was as opposite
in nature to the boy as any person could be. This child, barely ten was
soft spoken and gentle. She was academically superior in her
assignments. Never did she give her teachers' grief. Upon arriving the
little girl always spoke a sweet greeting. When she left she never
forgot to say a fond good-bye, which was enough to pull at one's heart
strings. Any little favor extended to her was always gifted with a quiet
Jeanetta was briefly visiting her grand
aunt who was her name sake. This grand aunt had spent many hours with
the child's mother and she was the only one of the children who had
appreciated the time enough to give her child the woman's name.
"Auntie Jeanette, you know I'm
leaving Thursday for California."
"I know Sweetheart." "I
know." Indeed, she did know. No sooner did she become totally
attached to the child's mother, many years before when she would be
wisked away to her home with her mother, who was this child's
grandmother, and rightly so.
That grandmother had become a part of
their lives just long enough for them to fall in love with her gentle,
quiet ways when that old demon whose name is divorce followed close
behind. "I know your grandmother in California." Jeanette told
the little girl. "She is a rare, beautiful person." "We
all loved her so." "You know she had such a gifted refinement
that when she speaks, today on the telephone it reminds me of tinkling
little silver ringing bells." "Her voice is that
pleasant." "Oklahoma was not her home and maybe the
sophisticated ways of California couldn't bring her contentment in the
many times plain surroundings of this little town."
It might not have been the problem.
Whatever it was, the girl was gone as quietly as she came and the only
contact they had with her was their contributing to her children's
welfare in the only way they could, as caretakers.
Jeanette felt she must almost visibly
shake any memories of sadness to touch in on these comparative minutes
she now had with this child. "Quickly now, we only have an
hour." "I must teach you about some secrets I know."
The little girl was a willing student and
followed almost to a fault only steps away from her grand aunt as if she
knew this was something she did not want to miss.
"We will learn of spaghetti, flour
and foliar feeding." "Let us start with the spaghetti."
"Since your grandfather Lewis's second wife is Italian, I'll bet
you know about spaghetti."
"I have watched her."
"The secret I have to teach you
while we do, the spaghetti isn't about that." "It is rather
about a greater gold nugget of something very practical."
"Watch as I clean while I go." "This is the secret."
"You will never have to worry about your house being clean if you
will learn to do this one thing." "It is so simple but works
so well." "Here, you wipe up the tomato splashes, and I will
rinse off the utensils we used." "Wherever you are standing,
or sitting, at that very spot, simply clean and make it look perfectly
neat." "Now look!" "The Little People will never
know we were here." "They hate cleaning up after us." The
little girl's aunt grinned mischievously as she used this age old
psychology to catch the little girl's interest.
"This is another story, Dear
Heart," "Remind me to tell you about them one day."
"While we are waiting for our sauce
to cook, let me tell you about handling raw flour."
"Hear." "Take the empty glass cannister, set it in the
sink and pour the flour from the sack into it." "If you set it
in the sink, it is an easy matter to clean up the spills."
"I won't spill any, Auntie."
The little girl was confident until a large glob fell from the sack. It
fell around the edges of the already full canister. "Opps!"
She looked toward her aunt.
"Don't worry." "This is
why the sink." "There is another something to learn
though." "Only use cold water to clean up flour."
"Remember that?" "Cold water doesn't causes the flour to
set and harden."
"Come out to the porch."
"I want to show you about foliar feeding the plants."
"See this large tightly covered plastic trash can?" "This
is where I keep my saved rain water." "I also have an old
Windex bottle and I use the sprayer, filled with rain water to mist the
plants." "Rainwater has nitrogen in it and the plants love it
as a fertilizer."
"These hanging plants are from being
divided and potted in their own pot." "I want you to see in
the closet where I have my wrapping paper." "Also, I have all
colors and widths of ribbon on one long spool." "When a
wedding, a new baby, a death, or just a gift for someone is needed, I
take a plant, cover the pot with pretty paper, wrap it with a bow."
" There is a gift worth, no less than thirty dollars."
"Let's divide one of the plants so
you can see how it is done." From one plant they divided them into
a number of small plants. "These plants will need rainwater for
their roots for a while in order to get going right away." The
grand aunt explained to her little niece as the girl was obviously
enjoying the "play with mud," game.
"Probably, the spaghetti is
ready." "Let's go in to see,"
"Auntie, Gramma Mary in California
always puts garlic in hers."
Jeanetta looked sidelong at the girl for
a moment. "I know Sweetie, but I was out." "Don't worry
it has plenty other things to season it." "I know they will
eat it." And, so, they did.