It really didn't take much to embarrass this woman whose story I am about to share. Wrinkles in shirts and creases in trousers, unmanageable hair and unruly children easily embarrassed her.
There were other deep-seated spurs that made her feel ashamed: displays of sadness, disappointment, tears, doubt, not to mention poor table manners, obesity and overeating …
It all began one day long ago before cell phones and e-mail kept people connected, back when visiting people in their homes was a customary way to stay in touch.
On one such occasion, the woman and her chubby 11-year-old daughter were paying a visit to a distant cousin who lived in the next town.
At the cousin's place, after a long wait while the women exchanged updates, the daughter wondered how adults managed to stay fixated in conversation for such a long, boring time as this was turning out to be.
To pass the time, she amused herself by thumbing through books, poking on piano keys, playing tic-tack-toe and gazing idly out the window.
Only now she was getting hungry. And at long last, the cousin offered refreshment – peach pie.
The youngster entered into pure delight, sinking her teeth into a flaky, buttery crust and slippery savory peaches.
She finished the first helping and politely requested seconds. Flattered, the cousin obliged.
Taking one sumptuous forkful after another, the girl was insatiable. Scraping her plate clean, she was certain that if she asked for thirds, she would not be denied.
So with the confidence and courtesy of a grown-up, the youngster complimented the cousin on her peach pie, saying to her recollection, "I have never tasted anything quite this delicious in my entire life."
Then in a gesture of sacramental holiness, the girl lifted her plate to the cousin and said, "I would like another helping, if you don't mind, please."
To be continued next week …
A resident of Southeast South Dakota for more than 30 years, Paula Damon is a popular columnist, keynote speaker, and freelance writer. Her columns have won first-place national and state awards in The National Federation of Press Women competitions. Most recently, Damon's writing took second place statewide in the South Dakota Press Women 2007 Competition. For more information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
� 2007 Paula Damon