The Literary Corner: Renegade Writer’s Guild

Published 9:49 pm Thursday, December 8, 2022

Back and Forth

By Gaye Hoots

I arrived back in Advance, and Nick told me Faye was being discharged, and he was bringing her home after having the procedure done to repair the cranial bleed. She was unable to do any activities of daily living for herself except to slowly eat while lying in bed and had a persistent headache and initially mild confusion. Nick and I did round-the-clock shifts with her, and gradually she could sit up.

She wanted to get her hair washed, but I did not believe she could get into the truck even with help. She proved me wrong, so we took her in the wheelchair, and she sat long enough to have her hair done. Lorene and Charles Markland invited us to have Thanksgiving dinner with them, and she was able to go and sit up and eat but was exhausted by the time we got home, and we all slept when we returned.

The meal was delicious, and it was good to see Doug and Jean Markland, Lorene’s sister and her husband, Charlie, Paige, and Eli, along with Paige’s mother and grandmother. The table settings were beautiful, and we celebrated Charles’ birthday, which fell on Thanksgiving. We have been friends since first grade. It was good to spend time with friends as we had been confined to the house. Ken and Brad had daily visits or calls to check on Faye, but she wanted Nick to provide most of her care.

She appreciates all the friends who have inquired about her and kept in touch with Nick. The Methodist Church has kept in touch through Lorene and the minister, Kendra has helped with baths and visits on her days off, and Tiffany and Jaden have paid brief visits also. Gail Frye baked her a pound cake that we all loved, and Kathy Cornatzer made her chicken soup. I am returning to Oriental on Friday. Wednesday, Faye has an appointment with her primary physician, and we hope to get a plan in place, so Nick has help when I leave.

A contractor has done work on my condo while I was here, and I am eager to see it and am also preparing to go with Kendra to Florida for Christmas and Vann’s wedding. I had hoped to visit several friends who are in nursing facilities, and catch lunch with others, but it will have to be next year.

Life is unpredictable, so we must cherish all our family, friends, and blessings. Some of them have had recent life changes that are difficult for them, so I am keeping Judy Howard, Bill Evans, Bob and Betty Potts, Ruth Latham, and Frances Warren in my prayers and asking prayers for Faye and Nick.


By Marie Craig

When we lived in Oconee County, S.C., I was president of an Extension Homemakers Club in the mid-70s.  There were about 50 members – most of whom were original residents of this northwest county who hadn’t ventured out much. They were sweet, thoughtful women who all loved each other. When the meeting was over, they would stay and stay visiting with their friends. We had wonderful times making quilts, sharing recipes, and learning more about homemaking and each other. At that time, there was an emphasis on learning the metric system. This is the only thing I saw them refuse to learn. Maybe they knew it wouldn’t happen anyway.

Usually, the County Extension Agent would present a program, and the other times, it was up to our members to be the teachers.  One week, at the last minute, the agent told me that she couldn’t come to teach a class.  So, I did some quick planning after a prayer to create an activity that would be meaningful.

We met in an old schoolhouse in a big room and sat in a big circle.  After the business meeting, I had the women to count off: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.  All of the one’s took their chairs and made a small circle.  The twos did likewise, etc.  I had a piece of paper for each group that had questions like: “What is my earliest memory as a little girl; what is my least favorite chore; what is my suggestion for improving housekeeping…”  They gladly complied and were soon having a great, noisy time discussing these topics going in turn around their circles.   

As I walked around to each of the six groups to see how they were doing, two women came walking toward me, tears in their eyes, arms around each other.  They just happened to be in the same group, and through one of the questions, they had figured out that they were first cousins.  They had played together as children, and one had moved away for several decades.  They had both married, changed surnames, and changed appearances through aging.  But through this activity, they had found each other.


By Julie Terry Cartner

Marti sighed in relief as she looked at the crowded restaurant. Black Friday could go either way in the food world, but this year, business was booming. As she waited for an order, she discretely rubbed her tired feet. Daria hadn’t shown up for work again that day, leaving the entire floor for Marti to cover. At least the tips were good, she thought, and the regulars at Food Coma were understanding, seeing that she was flying solo again. They were like family. Marti knew them all by name and their favorite specials, and they knew her. The others were being patient too, for the most part.

She mentally calculated her tips. Getting closer, she thought. Probably need ten more to pay the rent, then hopefully she’d make enough more to buy her son, Jake, the bicycle he so desperately wanted. Christmas miracles, she prayed. As she gathered the order and rushed to the waiting table, she automatically pasted her smile back on her face. She enjoyed her job, interacting with customers and making their days a bit nicer. She was just tired.

But still, Marti knew a positive attitude, kind smile, and genuine interest in others made a pleasant experience for everyone. No one ever knew when her smile might be the only one someone might see that day. Besides, in four hours she’d be off, and then she’d be able to play with Jake, her seven-year-old son. Jake, who was filled with goodness, Jake, who still believed in the magic of Christmas, was her reason to get up every day. Marti was determined to protect that innocence as long as possible.

Re-tying her apron, Marti approached the next customer with her trademark smile. “Hi, I’m Marti, and I will be your server.” The man, a stranger, who barely grunted a reply, ordered water, vegetable soup, and a sandwich. He wanted the tomato on the side, two lemon slices for the water on a separate plate, and he wanted exactly three ice cubes. He returned his soup two times, claiming it wasn’t hot enough, then complained when the now steaming soup burned his mouth. Despite his demands, Marti maintained her smile as she took care of him and her other customers.

“Hi Sam. How’s your wife? She greeted the man in the next booth. Hearing that the woman’s surgery had gone well, she smiled. “I’m so glad, Sam. It will be a joyous Christmas for you both.”

At another table, she congratulated Patsy on her son’s success the night before. “Thirty-two points and eleven rebounds? You must be proud!” And so her shift continued, Marti spreading good will even as her feet throbbed, screamed, and threatened mutiny.

Back to the stranger, she offered apple pie. “It’s fresh and homemade. My boss bakes every morning.”

Earl and Bob interrupted, calling out, “Hey Marti Mae, don’t sell off our pies!”

Laughing, Marti replied, “Oh guys, you know there are plenty.”

Intrigued by the banter and Marti’s unfailing smile, he ordered the pie while listening to the dialogue around him. It didn’t take long to realize Marti was well loved, and deservedly so. She was unfailingly kind and interested in everyone, even grumpy him. A short conversation with Sam and Patsy, and he knew enough – single mother trying to save for a bicycle for her son.

He’d come into the restaurant angry after getting the PI’s report on his wife’s affair. In a rare moment of brutal honesty, he knew it was, at least partly, his fault. So busy chasing another dollar, another client, another job, he’d neglected his wife, constantly not showing up as promised, always putting her last.

She could have talked to me, maybe, if I’d given her a chance. Then with a sigh, he acknowledged, I didn’t. I can’t save my marriage, but maybe I can be a better human. Fingering the $2,000 bonus check he’d just received; he made a decision. He pulled it out, endorsed it, and wrote that amount on the tip line of his bill. He added a note, “One good tip deserves another. The pie was delicious. Merry Christmas, Marti!” Then he slipped out the door unnoticed, perhaps a wiser and kinder man.