A Thigh for Everybody

Marriage, like cooking, takes dedication.

Kim: “I like to do a lot of things, but if I get to do them, that’s another question."
  • Kim: “I like to do a lot of things, but if I get to do them, that’s another question."
  • Image by Sandy Huffaker, Jr.

“I don’t cook,” says Kim as I enter her kitchen. “My kids will tell you this. I don’t cook. We’re really busy during the week. Usually, everybody just fends for themselves, you know? Popcorn, cold cereal... I’ve been cooking more since my eldest son came back for a short while, but I don’t know; I just don’t cook a lot. I don’t have a big variety, but we do okay; we’ve made out okay.”

Kim does not cook, but she is cooking tonight. “I’m having candied yams, which I’ve never made before. Blackeyed peas — you ever have black-eyed peas?” I have not. “I’m gonna fry some chicken, which I do pretty good — I guess you’ve had a lot of fried chicken. Cornbread, box cornbread, and what else did I have...rice.” The event — cooking — has not passed unnoticed. “I got the recipe for the candied yams from my sister — she’s the queen of sweet potatoes, or candied yams, as she’d say. My sister asked, ‘Who’s coming over? Why you cooking? You don’t cook! We ’re coming by; we want to see who’s coming over.’ I never cook — I just got away from it.”

Kim’ s sister felt the rumblings in Spring Valley, but the epicenter is here in Casa de Oro, and those most affected are at least as curious. “My kids were, like, ‘Who’s coming over? Who’s coming over?’ because I very seldom have company over. I said,‘Your potential stepdaddy’s coming over.’ ” She smiles at the memory of the joke and busies herself with the potatoes.

“I boiled them already, until they were tender in the middle. That’s what I was told to do. One sister boils them, the other doesn’t.” She slices the peeled potatoes and lays a single layer of slices in the bottom of a glass loaf pan. “So, put the sugar in — she told me once how to do it, and when we talked again, she said, ‘Now, don’t forget your sugar.’ I said, ‘Sugar? You didn’t mention that the first time. I’m glad I went over this.’”

Kim does not measure the sugar, just scoops it into a coffee cup and ladles it in. She follows the sugar with nutmeg, then slices an orange (with the skin still on) into rounds and lays in a layer of that. “Seems like I’m missing something...oh, vanilla. She told me vanilla, just a little bit.” Another layer of potatoes and more sugar. “Little more sugar...a lot of sugar...little more sugar. My sister’s are so good. I hope this is right — I may not even have enough sugar. Hers are sweet, but they’re good.” Foil covers the top of the loaf pan, and it goes into the oven — almost.

The sweet potatoes’ place in the preheated oven has been occupied by a cardboard pizza box, and the stink of baking paper billows forth when Kim opens the oven door.“Oh, Dijon,” she sighs, instantly assigning responsibility to her younger son, who is in his room adjacent to the kitchen. “Dijon!” she calls. “You left the pizza box in here!”

“I know — for a reason,” he calls back, in a tone of youthful self-assurance.

“But I’m trying to use the oven, child!”

“I didn’t know. The reason that thing is there is because of the way you’ve got it set up in the refrigerator.”

“Well, you could have changed the setup, you know. GT [Kim’s older son George] was just asking if there was any more pizza, and I told him no, because I didn’t see any in the freezer.” Out comes the pizza box with its one slice of cardboard-infused pizza; in go the potatoes. “When people do come over,” she says to me,“they say that me and the youngest one [Dijon], they say,‘Y’all are like a husband and a wife. That’s all you do, is argue. How long y’all been married?’ That’s my ace, though, that’s my ace. It was just me and him until a month ago. Then my other son — he’s in the Navy; he’s going to be stationed in Chicago in March — he said, ‘Can I move back?’ He ’s stationed in Balboa. I think after September 11 he just wanted to be closer to home. I was, like, ‘I guess so, but you’ve got to do some things.’ It’s working out; it’s kind of crowded, but it’s working out okay. They get into it every now and then, but that’s on his lease agreement: No bickering with your brother.”

Had George moved back a year ago, it wouldn’t have been quite so crowded. It also wouldn’t have been here.“I used to live across the street,” explains Kim. “Very nice apartment. Very reasonable rent; I was paying about $600 [for two bedrooms and two baths]. Very clean. It had a big French window on one side, a kitchen facing the street. My son, he had a balcony in his room, and there was a balcony in the front room. The carpet was blue. It was nice.”

But then last May, “The owner sold the building, and the new owner turned it into a rehab house. So everybody had to get out. I was so mad. I was, like,‘They can’t do that.’ My thinking was,‘They’re discriminating against us because we’re not as [unfortunate]’ — it’s a Section 8 place now. ‘That’s not fair; how they gonna put us out?’ That’s just my opinion, but I still don’t think it’s right. Just because they get their money from the federal government, they shouldn’t be able to have choice housing.” A legal secretary, Kim sought legal recourse, calling state and local governments and even some lawyers, but to no avail. She had to find a new apartment.

“When I started looking, I couldn’t find anything I could afford. All the places — you know, nice, decent places — around here were almost $800. Even the landlords couldn’t believe it was happening. Honey, I went everywhere; I was trying to stay in the area, because my son was in school. It was wild. I saw some one-bedrooms, $805. I was this close to moving into a one-bedroom — I had, like, five days to get out — and this place came open. It was just a blessing that came right out of the sky, because I didn’t know what I was going to do.”

The rent is a little higher here, and there is one less bathroom, which adds to the crowding. She guesses that the carpet — a worn, stained greenish brown — is the original. “I would like a new carpet; I talked to them about it, but they never got back to me, so it’s probably a no.” I comment that the tan paint job on the walls looks new. “Yeah, but you know what? I ain’t trying to complain, but you can tell it’s thick. It’s been spray-painted, spray-painted a lot of times.” Still, she is grateful to have found it. “If they give me that new carpet, I ain’t going nowhere, because I like this. I like the location.”

Except for one year back East, Kim has lived in Southern California since she came here with her first husband, a Navy man, in 1980. She was born and raised in Detroit. “I’ve lived in Long Beach, Oceanside, San Diego, and Spring Valley,” she recalls. “I’ve moved around a lot, but just in the same area.” Her sisters followed her west — besides her sister in Spring Valley, she has another in Long Beach. Mom followed her children — they had the grandchildren, after all — to the L.A. area, but after her retirement, Mom moved to Las Vegas.“Mom packed up her parents and moved them out there.” I don’t know what she likes about it — she just likes the people, the atmosphere, I guess. She’s not a big gambler. She packed up her parents and moved them out there. She comes to visit maybe once every two months.”

As she talks, Kim begins rinsing rice in the sink.“My aunt told me,‘Don’t do that,’ but I like to wash it off. She says I’m washing all the nutrients out, but I don’t like all that white [residue].” The rice goes into a saucepan with water, and Kim starts it boiling. “Okay, got the rice started. Get the cornbread started. Cornbread out of a box is all it is. Like I said, I don’t know how to cook that much, so I kind of dabble here and there.” She rummages around in a cabinet for a muffin tin, pours a dollop of vegetable oil into each depression so that the muffins won’t stick, and begins mixing the cornbread batter. Throughout her preparations, she adds water to the rice as it boils dry. She tosses in a little salt. Once the cornbread batter is poured, it goes into the oven beside the sweet potatoes, and Kim begins work on the chicken.

She opens a large pack of wings and thighs, noting, “I won’t cook all this meat; I’ll freeze some of it.” Then she rinses each piece under the faucet in the sink. With her fingers she picks off whatever bits of excess fat she can and places them in the coffee cup she used to pour sugar on the sweet potatoes. She lays the pieces of chicken out on a jellyroll pan and begins the sprinkling: first, a little Accent; second, some lemon and herb seasoning; third, a generous dash of Lawry’s seasoned salt. “I use that on everything,” she attests.“I’ll get this seasoned, and then I’ll fire up the grease.” After the sprinkling, each piece is shaken in a bag with flour. Then Kim fires up the grease, which means pouring about three quarters of an inch of vegetable oil into a stock pot on the stove top. “I like to use this pot so the grease doesn’t splash too bad. When I’m frying, I like to use a lot of grease. It ain’t good for you, but it’s good to eat, you know what I’m saying? Ain’t good for you, but it’s good to eat. We worry about that later, when we get sick and the arteries are clogged up. We don’t worry about it now.”

Kim cleans as she goes; now, she pours the contents of the chicken-fat cup into the now-empty cornbread mix box and drops the box into the trash. Otherwise, “It would leak out onto the floor.” She checks the grease by dipping in the tip of a chicken wing; nothing happens.“It would start frying if it was hot enough. It would be bubbling.” But while the grease isn’t bubbling, a check inside the oven reveals that the sweet potatoes are. Kim’s normally alto voice breaks into a delighted soprano.“I see the bubbling! This is the first time I’ve cooked... Bubbling!” She calls to her boys, hidden away in the bedrooms. “The candied yams are bubbling, you guys! Making progress!”

It is clear that, regardless of her claim that she doesn’t cook, Kim did cook once. She has consulted no cookbooks, made no measurements. Everything has been synchronized; each job done at the appropriate time. She is too efficient in planning and in her motions to be a stranger to the kitchen.“I’m really a smart person, I just don’t like to cook,” she says.“I mean, I’m not motivated to cook. I feel like I’m just all cooked out.”

“Did you cook for a long time?”

“I thought it was a long time. Three husbands — you know, breakfast, lunch and dinner. I couldn’t do that for no 30 years. No, no, I don’t think... No, I know I can’t. I don’t even know why I said,‘I think.’ No, I couldn’t do that. My mother wasn’t a motivated cook; that’s what I blame it on. I don’t think my mother ever cooked a cake. That’s not saying anything bad, it’s just that I don’t recall her ever cooking a cake. We ate rice almost every day — rice with gravy, rice with butter, red rice. T he first time I got married, I didn’t cook rice for years. You have to really be dedicated; I’m seeing that now. I’m learning that now after three tries, but you have to really be dedicated. I loved him, but I just wasn’t dedicated enough [to do] what you have to to make it last.”

Kim’s first marriage ended in 1989. “I got married [again] in ’90 and left in ’91. Then I got married again, I think it was ’95 — ’95 or ’93. If we got married in ’93, I left in ’95; if we got married in ’95, I left in ’97. Actually, I’m still married to the guy, but I haven’t seen him for a long time. I don’t know [if he wants a divorce], and I’m not going to pay for one. If I get $200, I’m going to pay one of my bills with it; I’m not paying for a divorce. That’s not high on my priority list. I mean, it really doesn’t matter.”

The last year of her first marriage she spent in Delaware; after the marriage ended, she came back to Southern California. Then “the older son decided he wanted to be with his father. Both of them went; they were shipped to Delaware. They stayed with their father for about five years; they stayed in Delaware, and then they moved to Chicago.

“The older one graduated from North Chicago High, and the little one came back here after eighth grade. He decided he wanted to spend more time with me. It just worked out. It was kind of hard at first...kind of hard. The whole thing was really hard...but you know, you’ve got to make sacrifices. But I think it’s for the better. I think in the long term, every one will be a better person for it...it just worked out.”

Kim checks the peas, lifting the lid on the CrockPot and releasing a column of fragrant steam. “These peas; something happened to these peas, I don’t know what. They’re not bad, they just busted up on me. See how they busted up? They didn’t stay solid on me. It made for a nice gravy, but the peas busted up on me.” She stirs the thick mass of burst pale-brown blackeyed peas, bringing a meaty lump to the surface. She fetches it out of the pot. “This is called a ham hock. You ever seen a ham hock?” I have not.“You know what part of a pig a ham hock is? Want to take a guess? How old is your baby? Eight months? What part of her body looks like that? Take a good look. We always laugh. Keep looking.”

I am stumped.“A joint?”

“Kind of. It’s this right here,” she says, placing her hands around the upper portion of her thigh. “You look at your baby’s thighs; they got a little ham hock right here. Tell your wife when you get home.” She laughs a big laugh. “I say, ‘Ooooh, that little baby has got some fat ham hocks on him! Look at those fat ham hocks!’”

Dipping a second wing shows the oil to be hot at last, and Kim begins to fry the first batch of chicken. There is a lull in her activity as the sizzling, spitting oil begins to do its work. I point to the weight bench next to the kitchen counter.

“Who’s lifting weights?”

“Me. I haven’t for a while. I go for a little while, then stop. I use the little five-pound free weights every day. My son says he uses them, but I’ve never seen it. But that’s what he says.”

Next to the weight bench stands the kitchen table, wooden, surrounded by three wooden chairs. The chairs are narrow; their legs and spindles ornately turned. Both table and chairs are painted a pale periwinkle, a shade that gathers intensity from the fluorescent light overhead. “I saw a TV show, and I got this notion that I was going to re-do everything. I painted the table and chairs, and I started painting on that.” She points to a hutch standing against the wall opposite the weight bench. The dark wood seems to disappear along the top, where the periwinkle bends its appearance toward that of the painted wall.“It isn’t finished, but I did paint my bedroom set, and it came out nice. I’m pretty proud of it; that was my project for last year.”

We walk down the hall to her bedroom, where George is working on a computer. The bed, bed tables, and dresser have all been painted a mustardy yellow, giving the room a unified, cozy feel. “All of it is used furniture; I got it at the Goodwill. I bought the lamp [on the nightstand] at a swap meet for $5.” The dining set also came from Goodwill. “It had four chairs; you could tell it was a nice little set for its time. One of the legs broke off, but you could tell from the workmanship that it wasn’t [cheap].” It was, however, painted orange. “I put [the new paint] right on the [old]. I didn’t know what I was doing. I did okay I was bored — I had nothing to do. Same reason I bought those weights: bored, nothing to do.”

But though she may be bored at times, it sounds as though she is rarely idle. “I like to do a lot of things, but if I get to do them, that’s another question. I like to bowl when I have time; I haven’t had time all year. With my son’s schedule, I can’t commit to anything long-term. I [have to] drive him all around and stuff. That guy is pretty much my social life. My sister says he’s my man; he takes all my time up. ‘That’s your man rig ht there, whether you know it or not.’ That’s right. He’s cool, though; he’s a cool guy. He’s in an orchestra; that takes a lot of his time and mine too. We work around it; it’s either now or never, you know what I’m saying? It’s fun, though. I complain about it, but it’s fun.”

Kim slits the frying thighs with a knife to help them cook. They will be done “when the bubbles go real low. It’ll stop bubbling, especially if it’s chicken.” Out comes the cornbread, a little dark and sticky on the bottom, but still okay. “I have made better ones, though — much better.” She slices butter into pats, places a pat on top of each hot muffin.“I’m just going to put the oven on high for the last...” Her voice goes high with excitement again. “Oooh, I got the candied yams!” But then, a cloud of concern shadows her face. “I’d better call [my sister]. Her candied yams don’t have a lot of juice in them like that. If they do, I don’t recall.” (She doesn’t call.)

The first batch of chicken comes out of the oil, warmly golden. The second batch is dropped in, and we walk down the hall to the front room.

Family photos dominate the decor. Nesting tables, their clear tops designed to display pictures, are filled with them. Family pictures cover the wall behind the sideboard: portraits of George in various sports uniforms (soccer, basketball, baseball), a shot of George with a trumpet, and another of Dijon with a clarinet. A black-and-white portrait of Kim when she graduated high school. Silhouettes of the boys’ heads. She shows me a shot of her extended family from 1994: mom, mom’s grandparents, brother, two sisters, their various spouses and children. “This is my brother here. He just got married last year and had a little baby and bought a house, all in one year. He’s so happy.” She notices her third husband in the picture. “So I must have married this guy in ’93 and left in ’95.”

For sitting, there is a couch and a handsome chair/coat rack, its high back layered with jackets. An oak laminate coffee table, side table, and bookcase round out the furniture. A pale blue rug covers a section of the darker wall-to-wall. The most striking features of the room are a grandfather clock — something of an heirloom — and a giltframed oil painting of a winter scene, full of vivid blues and whites and blacks. “My grandmother painted that when she was 83.”

The TV is an old boxed-in model, full of the gravity of woodwork. A Nintendo 64 is tucked beside it. The set has been left on; a USA Network movie is playing. “I like to watch Court TV and the Discovery Channel,” says Kim. “I don’t like shows that show people in misery, you know, like Cops — though that one is kind of funny. I don’t like shows where they show somebody getting hurt. I don’t watch a lot. Sometimes I like to watch black-and-white movies, but I’m not, like, ‘Nine o’clock, I have to be home to watch Friends.’”

Noodlings on a clarinet have begun to slip down the hall from Dijon’s bedroom. He is practicing. He is very good. On the back of the front door hangs an erasable Personnel board; the columns read Personnel, In, Out, Will Return At, and Comments. Two entries state “Kim Out,” two note that Dijon is at an audition. “That was the weekly schedule,” sighs Kim, “but now I don’t even have time to fill that out. I’ve got a day book. You should see it; it’s this thick with stuff, all his dates and auditions. He’ll be going off [to college] somewhere next year; I don’t know where.

“Oberlin sent for him — they sent him a ticket, paid for housing, food, everything for four days. He really liked it. I guess, based on what his record shows, they selected him for their scholars’ program to check it out. But he still wants to keep all his options open, and I want him to keep all his options open, because that’s a private school. That’s expensive. [I told him,] ‘If somebody says, “We want you to go to Timbuktu and we’ll pay for it,” then you’re going to Timbuktu — sorry.’ But he said,‘Okay.’ You’d be nuts not to do it. We’ll know by March; I think all the scholarships are passed out by April. He wants to go to DePaul, Oberlin, Northwestern, and there’s one school out here — Cal State Northridge. I wouldn’t mind him going to Chicago, because his dad is there. If the dad wasn’t there, I wouldn’t be too happy about it.”

“He’s got a gift.”

“Yeah, he’s very dedicated, Lord knows. He fills out all the papers, all the forms. My sister told me a long time ago, she said, ‘If your child doesn’t bring any papers home, don’t go get any papers. You’re wasting your money. They don’t want to go.”

Dinner is ready; Kim summons her boys to the table. The Crock-Pot sits in the center, and though there are paper napkins under the forks, each place is set with a red cloth napkin in a green and red napkin ring. “This is not a gourmet meal,” proclaims Kim.“This is special; it’s not gourmet. It’s real special, because I don’t cook. This is going down in history. It’ll go down in my diary; that’s for sure.”

The boys arrive; Kim pulls up a plastic chair to fill in for the missing fourth. She asks George,“You want to say grace? Go ahead.”

“Awwww...” George ducks his head; his voice is soft. “God, we thank you for this food. Bless everyone at this table through Jesus Christ...” The conclusion is lost in the softness.

Earlier, while we were discussing family, I had told Kim that I have three children. While plates are passed, she turns to George. “See, George, he has three kids. It’s a lot of work. You don’t want three kids, do you?”

“What kind of a question is that?”

“They make me happy,” I volunteer.

“Well, I’m telling him wait. No, you don’t want three kids.”

“You had two kids,” rejoins George.

“I know, but it’s different.”

“How’s it different?”

“I’m me and you.” She laughs.

“Okay,” frowns George.

“No, I’m teasing. I’m just telling you that it ain’t easy, it ain’t easy. Kids, that’s not a joke, that’s real serious. There’s a thigh for everybody; GT, pull me a wing.”

Plates are piled with homey food. Kim asks me, “Did you get some of my candied yams? My world-famous candied yams?”

“World-famous, huh?” says Dijon, smiling.

“One-day famous,” replies Kim.

Talk of Dijon’s upcoming winter concert — “the nondenominational winter concert,” he calls it — follows. This brings us round to Christmas dinner.

“My sister cooks,” Kim reminds me.

“She’s cooking on Christmas, huh?” asks George.

“I asked her about yams, and she said, ‘Yams? You’re supposed to be cooking the greens!’ I said, ‘You just hold that thought. Now, I’m going to ask you about these candied yams, what I’m supposed to do to them — I’m going to cook them tomorrow.’ So, she told me, and then I was, like, ‘Now, let’s get back to these greens. What are you talking about, I’m supposed to be cooking greens? You thought of that, but you failed to convey your thought to me, because I don’t know anything about it.’”

To me: “We’re all going over to my sister’s house.”

George asks,“Where’d you guys go last year?”

“We stayed home,” answers Dijon.

“Did we?” asks Kim. “Didn’t we eat popcorn or something? We just ate junk all day. I know we stayed home — or did we go to Laney’s?”

“I don’t know; it was so long ago.”

More discussion of orchestra goings-on follows, laced with mutual incredulity and accusation and joshing. More than anything else, the talk feels fun. The candied yams are tasty, though I have nothing to which I can compare them. The black-eyed peas, burst though they are, are smoky-sweet, like good beans. Kim ladles them over my rice; the grains provide a textural counterpoint.

After they finish, the boys disappear once again. George will do the dishes later. “Everybody helps around here,” says Kim. “That’s on the agreement, too — you gotta help out with the chores. Everybody vacuums their own room. I try to get the front room if I can.”

In the front room, there is a bookcase. On the bookcase, below the bowling trophy (“I was on a good team”), there are books with titles like The Be-Happy Attitudes, This Too Shall Pass, Local Church: God’s Plan for Planet Earth, Golden Treasury of Bible Wisdom. There are other titles — Liar’s Game, Pregnant and Loving It, The Poisonwood Bible, The Thorn Birds — but the former group, together with a copy of the Bible and Young’s Analytical Concordance to the Bible, indicate a more than passing interest in Christianity.

“So, do you attend church near here?”

“You know what? I haven’t been to church in about three years.” It turns out that she was tangled up — not quite involved, but not quite a spectator — in a scandal at her last church. “They had a preacher there they didn’t like. It was wild.”

What follows is a story in itself, a story of rapid growth, of old-timers disliking change, of doings that seem to deserve Kim’s description as “dastardly.” The story is three years old, but for her, it is still fresh in the telling. Item number one: “For 16 years, he was in the military. He was a chaplain over here at Balboa. Somebody in the church sent a letter to his commanding officer telling him that the pastor was getting paid for working in the church. I don’t know what the rule is, but obviously, the rule is you can’t do both.”

George, passing through the hall, overhears this last bit.

“That’s just like [at] any other church,” he volunteers.

“You ear hustling?”

“No, but I’m telling you...”

“You listening in on my conversation?”

“That’s just like at any other...”

“I don’t know what the rule is; I’m just telling you that they forced him to quit — give up his military career four years from his pension, and that man got a wife and two kids — because they’re evil... He chose the church over his career. That’s hard.” And apparently, it wasn’t enough.

Item number two: “They set up this secret meeting. I was included in the secret, but I didn’t know it. I was the clerk of the church; all the clerk is supposed to do is take minutes. They told me,‘There’s going to be a meeting next Tuesday night.’ I said, ‘Okay, I’ll be there.’ I called the pastor and said, ‘Pastor, do you have anything you want to put on the agenda?’ He said, ‘Agenda for what?’ I said to myself, ‘Oh, Lord.’ He said, ‘Don’t worry about it. No, I don’t have anything for the agenda.’“

I’m a nervous wreck by now. I still don’t know what’s going on; I’m thinking this may be an oversight. We get to the meeting, everybody’s there, and I’ve got my little pad and pencil, and the pastor comes strolling up. He says,‘Oh, y’all had a meeting and y’all didn’t even inform the pastor of the church?’ He said something to that effect. The deacon jumps up — and this is when I decided I was out of there; I didn’t leave that day, but I knew — and he says,‘I knew it! I knew somebody was going to tell the pastor! I got eyes and ears in this church!’ I couldn’t believe it.”

The items multiply; the overall impression is of a youngster trying to revamp and expand and an old guard trying to preserve itself. Throughout, Kim repeats that “It was wild,” meaning both “tragic” and “out of control.” By the end,“They were videotaping the service.” Someone had donated the money for a new roof. “He got one group of men to donate a new fence. He was getting people to really get into ‘Let’s make it a better building, a better church.’ He was just talking, right? The man was just talking. He said,‘How many people would be willing to donate $10 a month to raise this amount within a year to get something painted?’ Do you know, a deacon jumped up and said,‘That’s the board’s business! You don’t have no business talking about that to the members!’ Right there in front of everybody. The pastor was furious; he was screaming furious. He couldn’t even preach, he got so upset. I mean, that was totally disrespectful. I saw how dastardly they were.” On August 23, she left. She has not been back since, nor has she been to any other church.

“I’m not worried about it. I mean, I have come to the point — I know I will go back to church one of these days. It just isn’t today. I’ll go back; I believe in God and all that. They just really made me sour about the church. I was telling people — I think it was my sister — and she said,‘Oh, you didn’t know that the church is political?’ I didn’t know. If I ever go to church, I don’t want to be on any auxiliary. I don’t want to do anything. Just let me sit in the pew and read my Bible and sing my hymns. That was an experience.”

Kim’s talk drifts back to the kids. “This one [George] was going to church. I don’t know if he was chasing some girl or what. He was going two or three times a week there for a bit. Then he just stopped going. I don’t know what happened. I didn’t ask; I just left it alone. He’ll go back if he wants to. They went as kids, but when they’re grown, they’ve got to make their ow n decisions. You can only lay the foundation.

“My mom never used to go, not when I was a kid. She took us, but she never went with us. Isn’t that wild? I liked church, I really liked church. I remember my mom used to dress us up, and we would go down there. She never went; I just think about that. She had reasons. My grandmother, now — she was in church all day. All day and half the night.” Kim has been cleaning during this last topic, starting in on the work that needs doing. “Well, I hope [the dinner] wasn’t too bad,” she says. No, indeed.

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