Is it fate or free will?

I think it’s gumbo.

You’re a planner. You’ve collected all the ingredients, notified all the family.

Gumbo on game day, your small hand in fate. The only time your team lost this game in the last ten years was that year you didn’t make the gumbo.

But you didn’t plan for Joe’s heart to give out mid gumbo. You didn’t plan to spend the next few days sleeping in a chair in ICU next to his bed.

So your sister Gladys, bless her heart, dropped in and took over your gumbo.

“I don’t like the way she chops the chicken —big chunks —and she doesn’t debone,” you whisper into Joe’s ear the first night.

You’re not sure he hears you. His eyes are closed, and he’s strung nostril-to-toe with tubes and wires.

“She probably didn’t slice the sausage thin like I like,” you tell Joe the second night.

Fate and the Gumbo

On game day, your cousin stops by. They’ve all taken turns checking on you and praying over Joe.

Your cousin’s eyes jump from tube to wire to blinking light, never really seeing Joe. “None of us saw this coming,” she remarks.

Because you can’t control everything, and Joe likes his red meat and twinkies.

“What are you going to do now?”

Because everyone looks to you to manage the house, the big family, and now, Joe’s heart.

You don’t answer because you know she doesn’t expect one.

“Great gumbo, by the way…”

“I didn’t…”

“You’re something else, whipping out the gumbo for all the family just before Joe…”

“But I didn’t…”

“Oh, I almost forgot, Gladys sent a care package. ‘Make sure she eats!’ she told me, because we all know how you are.”

The bowl is still warm. Your cousin pulls a spoon out of the bag.

“Here, let me sit here with Joe while you go to the table and eat. It’s top notch, as usual.”

Your diet of peanuts and granola bars doesn’t support your resistance to accepting Gladys’s gumbo, so you carry your warm bowl to the table by the window. You pop the lid and slowly turn the ingredients you chopped two days ago.

Let Go

Threads of shredded chicken drape across your spoon. No bones! Stirring more vigorously, no big Gladys chunks! No chunky sausage.

“You okay?”

You realize the question is for you. “I’m fine, thanks. Really…”

You pull up to the table to enjoy the gumbo, “Who’s winning?” you ask without commitment.

“Oh, the game? That was yesterday. They won.”

“Oh…” How many days have I been eating peanuts? “So y’all got together at my…”

“No, it didn’t feel right, not with Joe in the hospital. Gladys froze most of the gumbo. We agreed to try again next year, because it’s always a good time. And your gumbo…. mmm… mmm….”

Let go and let Gladys, bless her heart. You smile as you take another spoonful of gumbo.

Fate and Free Will are sisters, and sometimes game day turns out just fine for both of them.

©Pennie Nichols. All Rights Reserved. 2020.