"Jim's about the same. Doc said he might get a little better but not much. Probably won't never be able to walk again, nor talk neither, though he sure does grunt a lot. Sometimes I can tell what he wants, but mostly it's just noises and when he gets all mad and red in the face I leave the room so's he'll stop afore he gives hisself another stroke. At least he can control his bowels now – I'm too old to be messing with diapers again. I still have to feed him, but he can drink by hisself with a real long straw. All he can have is tea, which he always hated, but Doc said not to excite him too much and I recollect reading somewhere that coffee is worse that way than tea. Too bad, that man purely did love his coffee. That and his whiskey, which he can't have no more neither.
"Today he didn't even get his morning tea. I was just gonna make it when Sally called – I don't know why she always calls right when I'm rushing to get out the door. What can I do, all the way across the state? It's been ten years, you'd think she would'a learned to get along by now. She still doesn't know how to handle men. Guess I don't neither, matter of fact. Must run in the family. She's talking about leaving again – been letting that damn Nancy fill her head with fancy ideas, I bet – but where would she go?
"'Look at your sister-in-law,' I told her, 'That the way you and your kids want to live?' Nancy's back with her folks – guess even that little two bedroom condo seems like a mansion after the shelter. She's still looking for part-time work while she goes to school so there's no money except the welfare and her daddy's pension for the six of them. No matter what that judge says, you can't rightly expect Jim Jr. to pay child support, not when he can't even see his own kids without some woman from the state in the same room the whole time, like he's gonna really hurt them or something.
"'Don't look to run home to us,' I told Sally. Our little flat is barely big enough for Jim and me. And what would she do? She said it's bad for the kids, her and Dave fussing all the time. What does she think it'd be like, raising them by herself? She never did finish school, so she'd have to wait tables or some such, and that won't hardly pay for food and rent, let alone someone to watch the kids. Lord knows I can't take 'em all day like Nancy's mother does, not with Jim.
"I swear, women today don't know when they've got it good. It's all these TV shows, telling how things ought to be. Well, ought to be ain't is, and sooner or later you gotta settle for what is. Dave's OK. Nobody's perfect. Lord knows, Jim ain't, but we made do. So did you and Daddy. Sure there were bad times, but you gotta take them with the good.
"What set her off, she had to go see little Davie's teacher 'cause he smacked some girl at recess then told the teacher it was ok: he was a man! Ain't that a hoot? I told Sally she needs to talk to that boy; he's eight now, old enough to know how to behave in public. Then, to make matters worse, after Dave fussed with her last time, Susie said she ain't never getting married, never gonna let no man touch her. I told Sally that don't mean nothing. Heck, she said that herself, one time after Jim got onto me, back when he was drinking heavy, and look at her now! 'Sides, it ain't serious: Dave never put her in the hospital or nothing, not like Mave Jarvis, always pretending she fell down her cellar stairs, like everybody don't know, and her husband a deacon, too!
"Now, I don't hold with getting into it in front of the kids – that ain't right. I can't recall Jim doing that but twice the whole time we been married, and Daddy never did neither, 'cept that time he thought he was gonna be made foreman and they give it to Billy Jenks instead, so that don't hardly count.
“’You gotta be careful, keep the kids out of the way. That's a wife's job,' is what I told Sally. And I told her not to worry about Susie not getting married. Wait till she gets twelve or thirteen, and the boys start sniffing around. She'll change her mind soon enough. We all do.
"Well, it's getting late. It's so nice, so quiet here I always hate to go, but I gotta get home and make Jim his blasted tea. Hope you like the flowers, Momma. I'm sorry: I know you always wanted a big headstone, but they've got this rule now that all you can have is a little metal plate set flat on the ground, so's it won't get in the way when they mow the grass. Bye for now, Momma; see you next Sunday. Love you. You too, Daddy."