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The Jacksons

From the Oct. 16, 2014 issue of the Manitoba Co-operator

Well darling? What do you think?” Andrew Jackson sat down on the chaise-lounge end of the new sectional couch and heaved a contented sigh. The sound of a car somewhere close by wafted in through the slightly opened patio door behind him, only to be drowned out by the sudden honking of a flock of geese passing low overhead outside and disappearing into the distance.

Rose sat down next to her husband who put his arm around her shoulders and pulled her close. She let her head fall to his shoulder and closed her eyes.

“It’s all very strange,” she said.

They sat in silence for a while.

“What’s the strangest thing?” said Andrew.

“It’s so quiet,” said Rose. “Well, except for the geese of course. I mean, it’s midnight on Thanksgiving Day and we’re all alone.” She opened her eyes. “I should be in the kitchen filling up the dishwasher or washing the roaster or sweeping the floor. That’s what I do.”

“That’s what you did,” said Andrew. “For 30 years. Now it’s the kids’ turn. The young’uns clean up while the old folks go home. As it should be.”

Rose was silent for a moment.

“Well, dinner was fantastic,” she said eventually. “I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed a Thanksgiving dinner more than that.”

“It helps not to be completely exhausted, doesn’t it?” said Andrew.

“I didn’t have to do anything,” said Rose. “I put the turkey in the oven and then I took it out.”

Andrew smiled. “That was the plan,” he said. “I love it when a plan comes together.” He turned his head and kissed the top of her head. “I’ll tell you what shocked me,” he said.

“The pumpkin pie?” said Rose.

“The pumpkin pie,” said Andrew. “At the risk of spoiling what is a very romantic and pleasant moment, I feel I must say that it was the best pumpkin pie I have ever had in my life. No offence.”

“None taken,” said Rose. “It was the best pumpkin pie I’ve ever had.”

“Life is funny,” said Andrew. “For 30 years I have been absolutely sure that no one would ever make a pumpkin pie better than the pumpkin pies you make and then Jennifer goes ahead and does it. Just like that. First try. It was like a revelation. I took a bite of that pie and my first thought was that everything I’ve learned up to this point in my life is wrong. Which, for some reason, came as a relief,” he added.

“Well I can’t say the pie gave me that kind of epiphanal reaction,” said Rose, “unless realizing that for 30 years you’ve been putting too much nutmeg in the pumpkin pie is epiphanal.”

“I don’t think epiphanal is a word,” said Andrew.

“Well it should be,” said Rose.

“Of course it should,” Andrew agreed, “but it isn’t.”

“Well, you know what I mean anyway,” said Rose.

“Of course I do,” said Andrew. “I can read you like a book. Although it’s a book in which some chapters are written in Chinese.”

There was a brief pause.

“So do you like the house?” asked Rose.

Andrew pondered that for a second. “So far so good,” he said. “But then we’ve only been living in it for 18 hours.”

“Well I like it,” said Rose. “It’s super cosy.”

“I like the new furniture,” said Andrew. “This couch is highly functional. Tomorrow at some point I will test its napping properties. If it’s as good for napping as it is for watching TV, I may never leave it again.”

“You have to leave it at night,” said Rose. “I can’t sleep in a king-size bed all by myself. It’s too big. I’d get lost in my sleep.”

“It is a big bed isn’t it,” said Andrew.

“I woke up in the middle of the night last night,” said Rose, “and I couldn’t figure out why you were outside chainsawing firewood and then I realized you weren’t. You were just snoring off in the distance across the bed.”

“I was very comfortable,” said Andrew.

“I gathered that,” said Rose.

There was another moment of silence.

“What do you think the young folks are doing?” said Andrew.

“I don’t know,” said Rose. “Probably playing Monopoly or Pandemic or something. Cards maybe. Having a good time anyway.”

“It’s nice not to be there,” said Andrew, “wishing they would go home already so we could go to bed.”

“It’s so weird,” said Rose. “I want to be there with them, but at the same time I’m glad I’m not.”

“That’s the sign of a life well lived,” said Andrew. “When you get to choose between the greater of two goods rather than the lesser of two evils.”

Rose turned her head slightly and gave her husband a gentle kiss on the cheek.

“Amen,” she said.

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