Thursday, July 21, 2011

Death at Miss Ellie's Cafe

I’m not giving anything away if I tell you that Maggie’s father, the Judge, dies at Miss Ellie's Cafe..  It’s the first sentence in the novel.  What I do want to tell you is that scene, as is the one in my second novel, was taken from a real-life experience.

I had an 88 year old uncle who was a delight.  We had dinner with him and several other relatives at a local restaurant every Friday night.  After his wife died, his health deteriorated rapidly.  While he kept up the routine of eating out, he often slept through the meal and then asked for a take-out when we were all ready to leave.  We became accustomed to this routine and began to expect it.

One evening when the restaurant was filled to capacity, eight of us sat around the table involved in our typical catch-up of the week’s events and my uncle passed away, still sitting upright in his chair.  The problem was, we didn’t notice.  When finally we realized the situation, in good southern fashion, we sat and  considered what options we might have to quietly remove him from the restaurants so as not to make a fuss.  My husband, being of sound mind and having been raised in Iowa where people are much more practical about such things, slipped away and dialed 911.  This resulted in a complete disruption of many people’s meals, for which we continue to apologize to this day.

We followed the ambulance with its blaring sirens to the hospital, to no avail.  The additional excitement and noise failed to revive my uncle.   With tears in her eyes, my mother wiped her nose and let out a gentle sob and then added the final cap to the evening, “This would have been so much better if it had happened at the Country Club.”

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