I had tried all morning to stay away from Mama, ‘cause I knew she’d want me to help her take food down to Miss Ada’s who had just gotten out of the hospital. Mama said she nearly died with pneumonia. I don’t know why I hated going to Miss Ada’s, but I did. Maybe it was because Miss Ada and Ole Joe were so old or how they were always saying things about how big I was getting. Anyway I did not want to go, so I hid out on the front porch. “Patty Sue Smith, for the last time get in here and help me. ” I know Daddy could have heard Mama way out in the pasture where he was fixing a fence.
I slowly got up and stomped into the house to find that Mama had all the food ready to place in the car. I helped her carry fried chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans and peach cobbler to the car. Everything smelled delicious. Miss Ada and Ole Joe lived down from us a couple miles and near the creek. Somebody told me one time that they had gotten flooded in one time and had to be rowed out when the creek flooded. We pulled into their yard and sat there just a minute. “I feel so sorry for Miss Ada,” Mama said. “She has never had anything in her life but a hard time. And she is the nicest person I know.
She’d do anything for us if I asked her. ” We got out of the car, got the food and headed for the house. The house was more of a shack and was no longer then the school bus that picked me up every day. It had some kind of red rubber siding that looked like bricks, but large patches were gone revealing the grey wood beneath. As we neared the house, I could see a chickens scratching at the ground beneath the porch and a single sawbriar growing through one of the porch cracks near the window. The single step to the porch was a large stone that had been worn down from years of use.
Mama managed to knock on the door. “Why looky who’s here, Ada. ” Joe said as he opened the door and we walked through. “We brought you supper for you,” Mama said and Joe began taking the bowls from us and carrying them into the kitchen. It was dark inside the living room and I had trouble seeing at first. The room was sealed in a dark wood and the ceiling was so low that I felt claustrophobic. Directly in front of me was an old red brocade sofa and its arms were worn and threadbare. In the far end of the room was a wood heater with two straight back chairs sitting on either side.
Next to the stove was a paint can with faded pink paint dried on the sides. Suddenly I remembered what it was for. It was half-filled with ashes and Joe and Ada used it as a spit can for their chewing tobacco and snuff. My stomach turned for a moment. “Lordy mercy,” said Miss Ada coming in from the kitchen. “Here’s Jane and my, my, my. It’s Patty Sue. Joe, she’s done growed up. ” Miss Ada came over and hugged me tightly. “It’s been so long since I seen you. ” Miss Ada turned to Mama. “You didn’t have to fix no food for us. You do so much for us anyway.
Can you sit a spell and talk? ” “We’ve got a minute. ” Mama replied, as she sat down on the sofa. Joe pulled the two straight-back chairs closer for Miss Ada and himself. I sat down by Mama. “Wait. I got something you’ll like Patty Sue,” said Miss Ada. She got up went over to the other side of the sofa. She pulled a large card board box out, dragging it toward me. “Let me help you,” said Mama. “That’s alright. Here Patty. You used to like looking at these. ” Miss Ada began pulling books from the box. They were easy books, the kind I used to read when I was six or seven.
There was Leo the Lop, Cat in the Hat, Madeleine, and many more. “I get the books off the bookmobile. They’re my purty picture books. Them people are so good to me. They have ‘em ready for me in this box ever’ couple of weeks. While I’s in the hospital they come by and brought this box. Joe told them I was in the hospital, but that I was to get out the next day. They left all these for me. My grandkids used to look at them. But they don’t come by much no more. I still like looking the pictures though. ” Miss Ada rubbed the book lying in her lap with the tail of her dress as if the book had something on it.
While Mama talked with Miss Ada and Joe, I looked through some of the books that I had loved when I was younger. I had many of these books stored in a box in the bottom of my closet. I hadn’t touched them in in a long time. Finally it was time to go home. Mama and I walked back to the car and drove away. I didn’t say much on the ride back, but as soon as we got there I went up to my room and pulled out some of those books that had been in the box at Miss Ada’s. I reread most of them that afternoon and enjoyed them just as much as the first time I read them.
Finally, I picked out my three favorite and went to find Mama. She was in the kitchen and I spread the books out on the table. “Mama, you said that Miss Ada never had much in her life. Can I take these to her and give them to her? ” Mama looked at the books and then at me. “That is a wonderful thing to do. You can go through the pasture the back way. If you wanted to, you’d have time to read one or two of them to her. ” “I was going to do that. It’s funny. It never occurred to me that there are people today who can’t read. ” With that I walked out the door with Miss Ada’s books under my arm.