It Has Been Forty Years

February 2, 2008
By Antonette Sirchia, Cleburne, TX

It has been forty years since I took this job. I started back before I could have graduated in 1945 when there wasn’t very much out in this part of Texas. The church was the biggest building in town where we would gather every other day for services and entertainment. Here my family couldn’t afford many things, other families had with my father’s small wages received as a dishwasher at the restaurant we lived above. My mother stayed at home washing clothes for everyone at ten cents a shirt or pant and school was a must for me. I would of graduated to if my father didn’t decide to skip out on my mother and me. He left us to fin for ourselves. When the owners found out they offered his job to me and I gratefully took it as many jobs weren’t around and we needed the money. These past years and I never got around to leaving this town; it had become some sort of holding place. That maybe if I waited long enough my father would come back and find me. The day came too, when I was doing my usual but now I was head waitress and I saw him with a cigarette in his hand. He never use to smoke but he never skipped out on a family before either. I served him like the other customers with no particular facial feature; I didn’t want him to know who I was. I always thought he must have had a good reason to leave and I would greet him with love and compassion with any answer. Though as he sat there I didn’t want to ever know him, it was him who had left and I shouldn’t have to listen to what he had to say. I gave him his cup of black coffee no sugar- some things don’t change I thought. He looked out at the window thinking about something as he finally says, “Do you know of a mother and girl who lived upstairs?” I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t want him to know I was still at the same place for the past forty years waiting for him. “Sorry sir, I remember who you are talking about. Though I couldn’t tell you where the girl is but the mother is buried at the old cemetery on top of the hill.” A look of sadness and deep thought showed and I left him alone. I later returned to check if he needed a refill and all I saw was a crinkled dollar bill left on the table. Looking out the window I saw him at the tip of the hill searching for her grave. I couldn’t help it I just had to know. I took my break and decided to stand with him at Mama’s grave.

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