I’d like to welcome Michaelene McElroy, author of The Last Supper Catering Company. Below is an excerpt from her book. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did and that after reading this, you’ll want to purchase the book for your own library. See the bottom of the post, where you will find a link so you can get your very own copy. Enjoy!
Since the day I was born, I’ve heard whispers of the departed settle into the curve of my ear, cooing and sweet talk in my baby years, but as I got older and learned to write, I was called upon to bear witness to the lives and loved ones they left behind. As they shared their stories, my right thumb tapped an Earth-to-Heaven code to let them know I received their message, then put pen to paper so I’d never forget their names or the stories that spiraled down from the curve of my ear and rested in my heart. Sometimes I would share their stories with Little G and there were moments when she laughed so hard, or was brought so near to tears by the retelling of a departed’s story, a twinge of guilt ran up my spine for claiming it as my own.
One night, when the need to wash away my guilt overtook me, I snuck down to the river running through our property and handed myself over to the river, chill and fresh, its edges disappearing into nothingness. A shimmer of stars floated alongside me as if they had fallen from the sky, and the Big Dipper looked close enough to ladle me up and carry me away. With God’s handiwork all around me, the idea that maybe Little G was right about God having a favor to ask of me cropped up. Maybe it was God talking to me all along. You know, using different voices and stories to warm me up for the day He called upon me with that favor of His in mind. Just as I was beginning to feel good about being chosen, the way the outside world looked down on me yanked on my leg, pulling my shiny, bobbing imagination under water, and taking with it the notion that God would choose me for anything special.
The next day, I fessed up and told Little G the truth: that the stories came from heavenly strangers passing through. Fearful of the consequence she might inflict on me for making claim on another’s story, I was tempted to sidetrack her by telling about the things Momma whispered in my ear. But in the end, I never tattled that on more than one spiteful occasion Pretty Childe told me that Tyler Lucknow wasn’t my daddy.
For the life of me, I didn’t know why Momma wanted to take away such a small comfort. Wasn’t it painful enough for me to know I wasn’t conceived in love? Didn’t the fact that I had to float around for nine months in a sea of resentment, Momma looking upon me like an unwelcome relative who dropped in unannounced and then overstayed their welcome, count for anything?
And it wasn’t as if I couldn’t tell Tyler Lucknow wasn’t my real daddy. Tyler was tall, dark, and handsome. I was turned out with red corkscrew hair, one green eye, the other brown; and I heard voices of the departed. Wasn’t it bad enough an entire town, filled with notions of bad luck and evil spirits, was so boldly ignorant they’d have nothing to do with me?
Some girls (I was one of them for a time) pine away for their mother’s love when it’s out of reach. Trying to make things right with Momma, which is hard when you can’t look a person in the eye, or them you, to see how true your apology is, I tapped out my bid for forgiveness so many times one summer, I formed a callous on my thumb. I hate to say it, but Momma’s spitefulness made me wonder if she was in Heaven.
It was a heart wrenching decision, but when I had all I could take of Momma’s hurtful whispers, my thumb sent a final message her way: G-o-o-d-b-y-e. Just because you love somebody, you don’t have to let them hurt you. My motto is—Love doesn’t hurt.
And mark my words, nobody, not even Momma, was ever gonna say anything bad about Tyler Lucknow in my presence. My heart still goes soft with the recollection of his generosity of spirit. My seventh birthday was a testament to the man’s deep rooted goodness.
There I stood on the porch, uncomfortable as sand in my butt crack, in a plaid party dress Little G stitched up for me that was so heavily starched I couldn’t put my arms full to my sides, and appeared to be an upward pointing arrow. My feet were crying and sweating fierce in a pair of too tight Mary Janes, and though Little G did her best to tame my unruly hair by braiding it, it had a mind of its own, tight curls expressing themselves by springing to freedom.
Even though I appeared to be coming apart at the seams, my heart still raced when Tyler, after such a long time gone, finally drove down our dirt road in his old, rusty orange pickup–one that moved more sideways than straight ahead. It was easy to see Tyler had gone to great strains to look especially handsome for my birthday, decked out as he was in an ironed white shirt that looked sorta new, and dark brown trousers pressed with such resolve they held a crease so sharp it cut through the air as he walked my way. And he seemed a mite nervous, acting as stiff as my overly starched party dress, when he pressed his cheek to mine. Heck, it was only me and Little G, and I didn’t care what he looked like as long as there was a Banner Bar hidden somewhere under all his sorta new fanciness. I loved Banner Bars so much that just two weeks prior, while kneeling by the side of my bed, I offered up this brand new prayer to God. “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep, but if the Lord my soul would take, send me off with a Banner Bar for goodness sake.” It’s true, if I only had one last supper before I died, I’d ask for a Banner Bar.
Tyler did put a hair of a scare in me when he handed me an envelope instead of the answer to my prayer. My Little G acted as confused as I was, but I saw a wink pass from Tyler in her direction. Inside the envelope, I found official papers making me his lawful daughter–B. Thankful Childe-Lucknow. I was too young to understand the importance of the paper, but I really liked the fancy look of my two last names on the parchment. Better yet, at the very bottom of the envelope, I found a Banner Bar–dark, bittersweet chocolate, wrapped in gold foil, and tied with a lavender ribbon.
Little G and Tyler, I mean, Daddy, sipped a little ’shine she uncorked to celebrate the occasion while I enjoyed some of her homemade root beer. The three of us laughed and lingered over my birthday dinner for a good while. Such a glow of love filled the room, I was unaware night had fallen around us, time to set out to the porch so I could make a birthday wish on the first star. Little G believed making wishes on birthday candles was for fools, said if you wanted a wish to come true, you had to look God directly in the eye, and you were less likely to make a careless wish if God was looking back at you. Had I known the turn of events my life would take so soon down the road with Little G and Daddy, I surely would have made a different wish.
Thrice blessed that day with my Banner Bar, and a brand new last name that came with Tyler as my Daddy, I wanted to give him something in return.
“Daddy,” I said, a grateful tear appearing in the corner of Daddy’s eye when I called him by his new name, “tonight I’m going to teach you the Ritual of the Five Senses.”
Real careful, I turned the Banner Bar over and over in my hands (touch). I untied the lavender ribbon and wove it through my unruly hair, then opened the gold foil slowly, pressing out the creases with reverence. My eyes consumed the dark, bittersweet chocolate, so glossy I swear I saw my reflection smiling back at me (sight). I shut my eyes so nothing could mess about with my concentration, raised the chocolate to my nose, and inhaled its earthiness (smell).
Daddy laughed and teased I was going to sniff the letters right off the bar, and he wasn’t too far off. The glorious fragrance alone made me so dizzy, the words Banner Bar jumbled up in my head until I finally exhaled, and the letters scrambled to their proper order.
Yoo-hoo, over here, my taste buds called out (hearing).
With a crisp snap I held the B in my hand. I always ate the B first, being a part of my name and all, but that night I offered it to Daddy. Understanding its worth, he accepted it with the respect due. I broke off the R, Remember, for myself. I closed my eyes and let the bittersweet taste rest on my tongue, its dark richness coating the inside of my mouth, and lingering holy like at the back of my throat, until it flowed into my belly and warmed me with primal fire (taste).
“Why?” my Daddy asked when he saw a tear roll down my cheek. I knew the why, but just didn’t know how to explain to Daddy that I tasted my life–bittersweet, yet joyful. From that night into forever, Daddy and I would be bound together for the sharing of eternal Love found in a Banner Bar. Remember me, for I will remember you.
In publishing The Last Supper Catering Company, Michaelene hopes that after reading the book, you will begin the conversation: What would you choose for your last supper? And who is the person that created the eternal soul-to-soul connection with the dish?
Click here to get your very own copy!
Please visit her blog where you can not only read humorous posts, but also submit your own recipe that a departed loved one made for you: http://www.michaelenemcelroy.com/