By Reba Phelps
Some years ago before my youngest daughter grew into the sophisticated young lady that she is today, she was very much a terror. She wasn’t a quiet child who could easily blend into her surroundings. She wasn’t a child who would occupy herself and play with a bag of toys while adults mingled or the preacher preached. She was very high maintenance and I just remember constantly apologizing for her behavior.
My friends that were closest to me affectionately called her, “wild-Kat”. I am eternally grateful these uncertain days are behind us now.
But, during the midst of her reign-of-terror we went to visit a close friend of mine who lives on Cane River. It was Easter Sunday and my friend had numerous nieces and nephews around her age, so it was a welcoming environment for rowdy children. It was a perfectly sunny day and the children were having heaps of fun. They played Easter themed games with eggs and even went fishing on the banks of the Cane.
It was picture perfect.
As the evening came to a close everyone headed inside for a supper of Creole Easter lunch leftovers. Once inside we noticed that my friend’s Maw Maw Genie had baked a beautiful, old-school single layer jelly cake. She was just finishing the jelly application when my terror was standing in line begging for a piece. The gracious and well meaning grandmother let her cut her own piece.
I knew deep in my heart this would not end well for anyone involved. I tried to intervene before she took possession of the knife. My Kat-like reflexes failed me and she had hacked into the cake before I, or my friend, could stop her.
Needless to say, she cut a piece of cake large enough to feed herself, my friend, me and any other adult in that kitchen. As speechless and mortified that I was, I did not even have to react. Kat had met her match in Maw Maw Genie. She let her know quick that it was rude and she better be prepared to eat every single bite. My friend and I knew she wouldn’t be able to eat all of it so we stood by, ready to eat a share of if to prevent a good old fashioned kitchen whooping.
It was a complete Creole standoff as Maw Maw Genie watched every bite that Kat took. As soon as it was all over and we were breathing a sigh of relief, the grandmother looked at wild-Kat right square in the eye and said, “You is wasteful,” with a stern voice that made all of us stand at attention.
She was the worst kind of wasteful that day. She probably wasn’t even hungry and still took the cake. I have reminded my daughter of that story every single time she even has the appearance of being wasteful. Being wasteful has a much deeper sentiment than that funny story in our household these days.
If there is one thing that the COVID-19 pandemic, shelter in place, has taught me and my girls, is that we were living extremely wasteful lives. We didn’t limit our wastefulness just to food. We were wasteful of our time together. We totally took it for granted as if we had an endless supply. We were wasteful with our talents and we filled our lives with meaningless things that kept us away from each other and kept us from praying together as a family. It was a rarity that we all sat together at the same time and talked about nothing for hours on end. We have sincerely used this slower pace to reflect on our blessings and take inventory of the things that matter most. We have used this time to pray for our nation, our community and our family members.
Maybe Maw Maw Genie tried to teach us this years ago with her stern but truthful words. We was wasteful. In every sense of the word.
“Show me, Lord, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting my life is. You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Everyone is but a breath even those who seem secure.” – Psalm 39:4-5
Rest in peace Orena Genevieve Beaudion Christophe – 1930-2020