Clara's Last Supper

Page 8 of 8

"I cook for her, I bathe her, I pamper her as best I can," Robyn says. "But in some ways, I'm like my father. I do like to be gone all the time."

Being cocooned has given Miss Clara time to think. She has played and replayed the last days of her cafe in her mind to glean some meaning. And she believes she knows now where she went wrong: She trusted people too much; she allowed too many things to get out of her own hands. If she had to do it all again, she would take a more cynical view of life.

"I think I would get some toughness in my heart," she says. "I would have stood up more."

Recently, she had a chance at resurrection. The owner of her former restaurant, now called Rosalee's, called her, asking her to consult with them on cooking. Clara was hesitant about the offer, but listened. Her hopes rose a bit, yet she held off on a final answer.

A few weeks later, she found out that new restaurant had shut down.
At 70, she knows her health as well as her age would preclude her from finding a job like she used to have. But she can teach what she knows, she says. "I may not work another eight hours all day, honey, but I can get on that stool in there and turn out some food, baby. It's all a matter of knowing what you're doing."

And that is her wish: for one more chance in the kitchen. "Wouldn't it be nice to be working and have your heart's desire, too?" she asks. "I hope--oh, I hope the Lord don't take me before I can do that again.

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Kaylois Henry