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So: pre-Easter dinner… which I was already late for at sunset.

The idea was that I’d “already eaten” and could join the conversation at Uncle Ron’s without making too many excuses… which would have worked fine until the cook insisted the family wait for me. Also, the dinner party was bigger than I’d been told: in addition to my parents and myself, dad’s brother also invited his wife’s father and mother, Willie and Ezra… seven in all.

Ever meet anyone who insists Ezra can’t be a girl’s name? Anyway…

Uncle Ron’s house used crucifixes as a decorating theme, FYI. If I hadn’t known better, I’d have thought they were trying to keep me out. I found myself a little jealous of the ten-dollar all-you-can-eat fish fry Cole and Travis had discovered at a local VFW and gone to. They told me it was easy to find; just look for the tank in the front yard. Clearly, they were having a good time…

It turns out being “diabetic” is also a handy excuse without a lot of questions, a genetic anomaly from my mom’s side. She gave me a moment’s scowl when I said this was I why I wasn’t eating (which implies a talking-to later) but lovely Ezra added, “At least you come by it honestly. You look so thin!”

Ezra latched onto me like a new best friend, even rearranging the dinner table to sit beside me. Dad and Ron had done a lot of catching up during the day, but my fears of becoming the topic of conversation were allieviated by Willie leading the subject matter.

Willie was a veteran warhorse. He looked like he could be a curmudgeon and had earned the right to be one. Recent surgeries mentioned included his new elbow, a new hip, and waiting for his replacement knee to heal. His wife Ezra made sure he always had a fresh cold beer tucked into a cozy before the last bottle ran dry.

Somehow we started talking about Chevy HHRs; three of us drove them. In my only attempt to add something meaningful, I mentioned I didn’t like HHRs when I test drove one and had got a little red Kia Soul instead. Clamping down on my arm like a vise, Ezra warned me, “He’s a Chevy man!” but Willie the Warhorse took it in stride. “Only reason those Koreans can build those cars is because I saved them all to let ’em do it!”

Talk turned to “the war” and how bunkers were better than foxholes. When bunker guys got a day of rest and relaxation, Willie explained, they went to a place far away from “the bangers” for hot showers and cheap American beer; when foxhole guys got a day, they spent it in the bunker! Willie said he’s been in the country for nine months, respectfully adding the foxhole guys were “the ones who actually TOOK the hill.” When he’d been in South Korea, nothing was taller than a chimney but now they have skyscrapers.

Ezra mentioned later that Willie almost never talked about the war and that he must have liked me.

The conversation eventually moved out onto a patio to enjoy a cool Spring evening talking about speed limits being too low and weird craft beers. It felt very normal and entirely peaceful taking it all in. I noticed my mom looking at me with a sense of pride, I think, marveling at the predator who could still pass for human.

Happy Easter, everyone… but this little adventure isn’t quite over yet.

Take your power seriously. Keep each other safe. Be indomitable.
~ Janiss

Email janiss.connelly@cedarcrestsanctum.com
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