I knew I was getting something good in my email when I saw the message come in with a subject of "from Stardaddy". Jay is a great storyteller and I am proud to present his latest....
The day was hot, and stifling; unusual for the fresh air and light breezes one generally finds in the North Georgia Appalachians. My two boys, both young at the time, wanted to fish Rock Creek and visit the hatchery, so we left the Mulky Campground at Cooper's Creek and, after a stop at the store to load up on candy and ice, arrived and decided to fish the recently stocked V-hole. A nice cross section of people, in both age and affluence, were on the bank and in the stream after the 60 or so trout bunched up against the little railroad tie dam. We entered the stream above them and waded down to a fishable location ready to haul them in.
I laid out my nymph, and the boys made accurate casts with their spinners, but it was soon obvious the trout were more interested in their new home than in corn, crickets, spinners and flies. Abruptly, crashing through the bushes slashed an enormous she-male woman and her skinny, bent over husband carrying a lawn chair and fishing pole. The woman paused on the edge of the bank and gave the appearance of a Scottish King, surveying his broad lands and high towers. Satisfied, she shouted a positive announcement back at her husband, "Homer, we's is luck, they just dun stocked 'hit." Then she slid down the bank to the edge of the stream, done mostly on her large butt, which graded about a half ton of soil and stones into the pristine waters.
Once down she demanded over her shoulders, "Homer, git me my rod and corn, times a wastin'."
Homer, who had just settled in the chair, jumped up like dog about to be swatted and handed down her 20 year old Zebco. From a rod guide she released a #6 hook that a 8 pound bass would have trouble swallowing, followed by a half ounce pendulum sinker, and then the line with a half dozen knots in it. She loaded the hook with a large wad of corn and heaved a mighty cast into the pool where it landed with a "Voo-Swish". In a few seconds, two dead trout floated to the surface and the gently washed over the dam; smacked into a better place by her sinker.
She saw these trout and roughly jabbing the end of her pole in their direction, she said loudly, "Hell-fur, I dun wished I could git them fish, but 'hit against tha law." And, then looking around so make sure every could hear her she added, "Yup, my half Cousin Lawford, dun got his butt throwed into the High Sheriff's jail fur doing hit, an I'm ain't telling no lie; am I Homer?"
Poor Homer, sitting in the chair with his thin legs crossed as a woman, was in another world, perhaps one of caressing breezes and soft spoken ladies in white dresses with blue sashes. He was sitting gently, leaning forward with his labor callused hands crossed over his knee holding a cigarette which had not been puffed in so long that a inch of long gently curving ash hung precariously off the end.
The woman screeched again, "Homer" the second time which shocked the impotent man out of his trance, and somehow knowing what she asked he replied, "You shore ain't lyin' Sugar Babe; hit's the God's truth."
So she continued on casting, waiting two minutes, and then dragging her hook and sinker back across the silty bottom. During all of the casting and dragging she was constantly screeching to anyone within five miles, about all her family whom, from what I could follow, were in jail if, they were male or, if female, were pregnant and not in the presence of what ever, "Sorry thang", got her that way. Then she started commenting about all the dead trout floating to the surface. She never quit talking except when I pointed out the dead trout were probably caused by her large hook and sinker. Then wondered out loud if she was trying to catch the trout, or just scare them to death. This caused her to stop screeching long enough to cast a, "kiss my butt" look in my direction; a frightening thought.
Everyone was getting tired of her lout and loudness, but when she dragged her rig back in for another cast, threw it out again and started calling to the trout like they were lushed couched Poodles, a shutter ran through us all. Instinctively we realized that we were in the presence of a fabled creature which only whispered about flickering camp fires out of the presence of women and children. A creature more feared than any bigfoot. Yes, she was definitely it; the Zebco woman from hell.
As each, at the pool realized who we were in the presence of, a man behind me let out a whisper of exclamation. Sugar, through cat ears, heard this, turned and scanned, all of us in the area for the offender. We felt shaken and violated to the molecular core by her extraterrestrial sixth sense. Everyone in the stream unconsciously sided towards one other for protection, while each secretly scrutinizing our individual escape routes least her eyes turn red, and mouth spat with fire and fury. Even the trout bunched tighter. Indeed, swam a little lower.
I, being one of the braver souls, cast off my fear, and knowing curiosity killed the cat, gave Sugar a probing stare. Her age is definitely post menopausal, but past that, indeterminable She is fat, and the odd thing is that she holds all her weight, not like woman usually does on her hip, but like a man; all of it pushed out front. It is like she has a gigantic apple cut in half and placed on her so the curve starts upwards just below her breasts and ends right at her crotch. Her breasts are large. Well massive. A source of pride in her youth, they now sag, pendulous and heavy, resting on, and to either side of her bulging abdomen. Sugar's shirt is low enough to show about four inches of cleavage and along with a patch of long, cadaver like hair which sweat collects on like little drops of dew. The moisture pearls up as little balls at the tips, getting larger and larger until finally drop to places best not thought of.
She has no neck, but instead bulging folds of skin which fall down on top of her chest and is dotted on either side with many warts and moles in various stages of growth.
The woman's hair, is yellow blonde. The same color as seen on a popular breed of Retriever, and after many years of having a Thelma ratting, dyeing, and spraying it with chemicals, that could infect every lab rat in the world with 20 kinds of cancer, not much of it is left. What strands remain have a metallic sheen, standing straight out for a finger's length and then combed over a bit. In hurricane force winds, not a filament would move from the two weeks of White Rain lacquered into it, and the sun reflecting off of it has been known to scramble search helicopters looking for the lost hiker sending mirror signals.
The most noticeable feature on Sugar Babe's face is her mouth. It is wide and formed into a upside down permanent frown. One side is tainted little darker due to the Lucky Strikes often held there, and when opened, as it often is, forms a large "O" shape; cavernous, and dark as Mammoth Cave. Her mouth is important to her for it is the source of all pleasure in the consumption of smoke, drink and food, but it also is her power and control. Sugar Babe is an Alpha creature of Southern Appalachia which, over the years scarred her into that course of development as a matter of survival in the poor underbelly of the mountains. Many a drunk, snarling man; countless smart mouth teenagers, and untold number of those who thought themselves better than her have been thunderstruck into submission by the wrath and hell's own fury which passes freely through this cavity.
Seeing her standing by the stream you wonder how, being so padded elsewhere, how she can have such skinny arms and legs. The two little sticks which emerge from her shoulders, and the pipe-stems coming out from her butt gives her the appearance of a Mrs. Potato Head, and liable to topple any minute. Sugar's clothing is obnoxiously tight. She has on a discolored, low necked pull over white cotton shirt tucked tightly into her sulfur yellow polyester pants, and both are two sizes to small for her. Unfortunately, with the heat and humidity being such as it is, the garments had kind of drawn up and stuck with wet stains to about every inch of her body.
The worse thing is her disposition. Cast your line over hers and she tuns into a rabid beast, darting red glowing eyes in your direction. She then flips her Luck Strike butt into the mass of trout and after making little putt-putt noises as she spits pieces of tobacco and remnant food particles from lunch, she growls, "Better watch it there Buddy, I don't wanna git tangled." And then, in a second's notice turns little girly as she sweet talks the trout into biting, and then, quick as a flash, cusses them wildy for their inactivity as far as her hook is concerned..
I look around me and notice the crowd has lessened in number considerably since Sugar Babe came to fish. Even my boys, having been raised not to err on the side of caution, have positioned themselves in such a manner as putting me between Sugar Babe and them. They felt no remorse using me as a human shield against an errant cast. I most assuredly raised no fools, for that half ounce sinker and monster hook was liable to fire off in any direction. Once she laid one right across the stream at about the speed of sound. You could not see it, but knew where it landed by noticing the half inch branches it clipped from a little tree . This brought out a howl, and a dozen or more, "got damns" and "hell fairs" from Babe's general direction as she violently jerked her rod in a flurry of up and down motions attempting to dislodge her tackle. In about a minute, the cussing and jerking wore her out. All it accomplished was to denude the poor plant of its leaves, and to run the trout from that side of the pool to right under the Babe's feet. This trout situation did not go unnoticed by Sugar and she claimed out loud that the reason she was not catching anything was because those damnable trout always swim to the wrong side. She then saw my son Joseph, pointed a crooked, nicotine stained finger towards him, asked just as sweet as she could, "Little boy thar, I give you some hugs and kisses-s-s-s-s, if you'ens could go to that thar bush and unhitch my hook, I 'haint got to many of thems left."
After Joseph figured that she was speaking to him he paled and I felt him move tight against my back. He came pressed even closer as she asked for his help a second time. Being the protector of my children, I then volunteered to release Sugar's hook from the little tree. As I waded over, I was wondering if it was the thought of being eaten by her hook, or the idea of a hug that frightened Joseph more, so I turned and asked Sugar if she still was giving hugs after I freed her rig. She smiled and announced if I got her hook back she was liable to give everybody a great big hug. Well, there were two older boys fishing near us, and that thought finally weakened their resolve, so in a flash they cranked in their bait and were last seen heading back upstream in quick step. All of this brought Homer out of his fantasy land, and I saw him silently laughing, and pointing at the fleeing boys as Babe took a disgusted set to her mouth. Suddenly Sugar was back to thinking about her hook and just as I reached for the bush she started jerking again causing me to jump back just as the monster hook's teeth whizzed by my thumb.
Homer then said his first words to Sugar babe yelling, "Sugar Babe, that thar man ain't gonna have a chance in hell gettin' your'en hook you jerkin' it around like that."
Over her shoulder Sugar spat out, "Hell Homer, I ain't try to git him. I'se jist a showin' him whar hit is." On my second try I took the precaution of wrapping her line around my hand a few times, just in case she forgot herself again, pulled out the hook and mighty sinker throwing it back into the water. I shouted okay to Sugar and she cranked in dragging everything like an anchor across the bottom of the pool scooting the trout back over to the far side again.
Things continued on for the next 20 minutes or so. Sugar would rare back and sling her rig into the pool, we would duck, and cover the more delicate parts of our bodies. Two more dead trout would float against the dam. Then Sugar would fire up a Lucky and alternately baby talk and cuss the trout, drag her hook back in, baiting it with ten more kernels of corn and go back to slinging.
After about ten more casts Sugar's eyes lit up, she turned and hollered, "Homer, Homer, put some of your'en fishin' luck on my rod. Give hit some of that thar Oral Roberts."
Homer, smoking as usual put the Lucky strike back in his mouth smiling now that his true talent be know to everyone, and with the Grace of an Evangelical Minister, rubbed the rod furiously all the while looking upwards.
Sugar got ready to cast and upon seeing all eyes turned in her direction, she harumped and said to all potential doubters, and nay-sayers, "What chew-all looking at, hell fair, ain't none of you 'all never seen tha passin' of luck?" Immediately the ten or so watching , in unison, jerked their gaze to other, more important tasks.
Sugar cast again and suddenly it happened. Sugar went dead still, her eyes widened a bit, her mouth flopped open, and she screamed, "Homer, Homer, I got a bite, gotta real damn bite."
"Well Sugar Babe, reel hit in and see'en if you's got one."
Sugar pulled back a bit and sure enough, a WHOOP, from her, and a swirl of water indeed tested to the fact that somehow, some way, Sugar Babe had a trout. In between all her whooping, hollering and foot stomping Babe managed to crank in her line a little bit and issuing forth a mighty grunt, heaved back causing the trout to come flying out of the water, sailing three feet over everyone's cowering head, and landing on the bank just about at Homer's feet.
Homer again jumped out of his fantasy world with a start as Sugar started screeching, "Git it Homer, git hit fore hit jumps back in thah crick!"
Homer's Lucky Strike flew high out of his hand as he started an intense Flamenco dance trying to catch the little flopping trout with his foot. But, the little thing was winning unerringly flipping its way back towards water, but to no avail because Sugar had half crawled up the bank in a flanking manoeuver. Finally, she and Homer met, and for a while all you could see was dust, and flailing arms as man and wife half beat each other to death trying to catch the little thing. All these goings-on soon produced a dust cloud and all we could make out was a trout flipping up through the top of the dust cloud, and back down again. It was Sugar who finally ended the battle with a move that I coined as the breast crunch. She squatted down a bit, then flew up into the cloud, and forward pinning the fish in between her low slung, but capacious breasts. She straightened up and all you could see was a little trout head and folds of her bosom scrunched up by her arms.. Screaming she got it, Sugar held everything together with her arms, while walking forward, up the bank clamoring to Homer to , "Git the stringer."
A new guy behind me with a fly pole said in amazement, "God, she could put a 20 incher in there and you would not see it."
By now Sugar Babe was all giggles and jiggles as she slid down the bank again dragging another hefty portion of dirt and gravel with her. She put her trout in the water, baited up, got Homer to put more "Oral" on her rod. She whizzed the hook out and with hips swinging, and a rare smile on her face started calling to the trout again. "Come on you sweet trout , momma's here, come to mamma, COME to momma."
Within the time it took her to wipe her nose with the back of her hand leaving a smear of trout slime, and bits of corn stuck to her cheek, Babe had another one. Homer, smiling at his wife, now was ready for this one, and as the multicolored fish again rainbowed over our ducking heads, Homer jumped up and put his foot on it.
Sugar yelled encouragement, "Hell fire, tha's a way to do hit Homer, now hurry up, 'en git my hook back." And Homer, in a flash, had the hook out, the trout on the stringer, and "Oraled" up the rod, just in time for Sugar to cast again. This scene repeated itself about four more times, and not one of the other ten people at the pool had even a bite. My youngest, Ben who stood waist deep to my knee deep in the water, half swam over to me and wanted to know why only she was catching all the fish. I told him to get in there and give her a run for her money, but Ben, after seeing Sugars rig crater the water once again looked up and said, "Un- Unaahh." So we watched the others fish while masses of trout swayed gently in the current, heads up and seemingly unaware of any bait that did not have a #6 hook through it and a "non-Oraled" rod.
Tired, I ambled over sat on the bank and the boys, bored and frustrated, laid their poles near me off to see what other wonders the stream could provide.
As I watched Sugar standing with her wet, dirt covered bottom, fish slime all over the front of her shirt, and her cleavage sprinkled with multi-hued, sparkly trout scales, my vision of her soften. In the buzzing afternoon's heat, I drifted off into an interminable high-country twilight, my mind traveled a path which lead to her youth and happiness. A pinpoint, which seemed not so much as a place, but a time; a memory. Her stern face and it's contemptible expressions of aggression slowly melted into that of a soft, sweet little girl. All tow- headed, frolicsome as a puppy, and innocent in life. She was a blissful little thing, who enjoyed playing with the dolls her Momma made for her out of corn cobs, and often fell asleep in her grandfather's lap feeling secure by his man smells. The deeper I drifted, the more Sugar metamorphosed, and soon her body, ravaged by time, babies, and the starch rich, protein deficient diet of the impoverished, turned into that of a quite a lovely, young lady. I could see her, and a much younger Homer walking down a dusty, brown dirt road on a hazy summer's late afternoon. Their familiarity was apparent when Homer's shy hand reached out clasping her's, and in response she stepped a little closer putting her head softy on his shoulder. This scene of budding love moved me, as I lost sight of them, in the orange tinged setting sun, as many segments of their life together came to me.
Married in post depression era, in one of the most impoverished areas of Appalachia, they moved from tiny town to tiny town. Towns that seemed more like food than places to live. Shufflegrits, Lick Skillet, Cabbagetown, and Sugar Valley. Locales where the textile mills laid off and closed; one after the other. Homer's dancing blue eyes, the ones that Sugar first fell in love with, were turning bit, by little bit into the dull grey of present times, as he fell old and bent from 30 years of doffing and sewing. Sugar had five children, of which, only three made it to adulthood because Homer did not have enough money to give them proper medical care until and no one stepped in to help until it was to late. The lost children, and a pitiful paycheck that did not go far enough for groceries every week caused him to take to drink. The rich often blame themselves for their failures, but poor men, like Homer tend to indite others and, in his frustrations, Homer lashed out, becoming a physically abusive tyrant often landing in jail.
As a young mother, Sugar suffered the whispers of those more fortunate as she went from store to store, begging for a little more credit so her babies could have some milk. Like Homer, when these whispers became a tempest in her thoughts and, when the jeers turned her nasty and threatening, people left her alone. She felt the mix of shame and joy, when she returning home after a evening of scrounging and finding a box of food , or some old clothes someone had left anonymously on the front stoop. And glory be, when these donations contained a little cash her joy overflowed.
Sugar also felt the pain of her children as they returned from school, angry and in tears because they were teased about their blackened teeth, and old clothes. Sugar was even denied the joy many parents have when they see their child grow into a person better than themselves, for her two boys became abusive alcoholics, and her sweet little girl married the local worthless skunk. All of them plowing the row she had been over many times. Sugar wept.
In his late fifties, Homer hurt his back at the mill and instead of a paycheck a even smaller disability check arrived and times were harder even still, but at least now Sugar ruled supreme over the check. She still bought Homer a little shine, for when his back got to bothering him to much , but she doled it out by the jelly glass full. Finally better times arrived when Homer turned 62, and that sweet social security check arrived in the mail. On the third of each month, Sugar went to the mailbox then sat with Homer who was always at the kitchen table with his coffee and Lucky Strike, and opened the check. Looking at the vast amount of $628.95. Sugar's hands shook as she remembered the checks for thirty-two dollars that Homer earned not to many years ago for fifty hours of labor, and then cried at the thought her children might be alive today if she had this money back then. Sugar also took time to bless that poor, crippled man who became president and created laws that took care of the hundreds of thousands like them. So, now times were tolerable. At least they had a good roof over their heads, a 12 year old truck that Homer kept running someway, and a warm dinner every night which counted for a lot to them. It counted for everything.
A angry deer-fly, rather indignant I was remaining so long in his territory, woke me up droning swift circles around my head and, not knowing how long I had been in my catalepsy, I glanced quickly behind me checking on the boys who were overturing rocks finding the lower end of the stream's food chain a fascinating adventure. I looked forward again, and sure enough, there was Sugar arching trout number eight to Homer's swift foot. Sugar put the trout on the stringer and counting carefully with a loud, "One, Two, Three" her voice lowered and became proportionally downcast as she came to eight.
"I guess that's hit, Sugar" Homer mumbled as his eyes turned back to their dull grey.
" Hell Fair, you'ins right thar Homer, gotta be careful of that thar game law," Sugar replied after thinking again about Cousin Lawford and banging tin cups.
As she put her foot on the bank to follow Homer to the car, Sugar's face brightened as a rare idea crossed her mind.
"Ain't you got your'n license Homer"
"Shore do Babe."
"Well, hell, that's tha answer. Didn't you Homer, dun catch all these here fish, and now hit's dun my turn to a catch my fish."
Homer's eyes turned flat again in thought, but flashed back to their sparkling blue and a smiled exposed his toothless gums.
With about all the excitement he could muster Homer said, " Well, I guess I dun catched these here trout," but then frowned a bit and lowered his voice and queried, "But what if'in the game law comes and one of these other fellers tells?"
At this thought, the old Sugar came back with a vengeance. Whirling about she shot out a glance that would have cut through a ten inch oak and yelled, "Ain't none of you'alls gonna tell tha law are you?"
All ten faces gathered around the pool immediately turned from Sugar and looked down shaking from side to side mumbling something about having not seen anything.
Sugar, not really believing everyone, and unsure of her exact legal position, stood transfixed while slowly coming up with a judiciary rational she was satisfied would take care of any game investigation. She called Homer over to the edge of the bank and with exaggerated motions, slowly paced words, and a sly tilt to her mouth, had Homer hold the trout and her rod announcing loudly enough so even God could hear, that since Homer had the rod and fish, that made the trout his legal fish. Is not possession nine tenths of the law? And, now she was free to catch eight more trout. Happy now with her rationalization, Sugar flew back to the stream and baited up. At the beginning of this commotion, the boys, sensing something was up, left their crawfish, black lizards, and hellgrammites, and stood by me listening to Sugar's expound on her legal loophole.
My oldest, grabbing me by the arm and whispered, "Daddy, that's cheating!"
I was just about ready to answer "Yes", and use Sugar as an object lesson, but as I looked back at her throwing another trout to Homer my thoughts again balanced. I remembered what coursed through my mind about Sugar's life. Just as soon as those thoughts left, the image of my mother, a southern lady and church woman, stood in my more moralistic self, wagging her finger, and speaking in her usual colloquialisms.
"Judge not least you be judged."
"Those in glass houses----."
"You know not a person until you have walked a mile----."
I could feel my neck and shoulders tighten as the big old bear of shame crept up on me. I had trespassed, and I was about to pass along my transgressions to my kin, so I gathered my boys in close as shadows, to explain Sugar.
These are the times in fatherhood I particulary enjoy the most. I relish the opportunity, to take this universe of ambiguity into which my youngsters were born, and illuminate each and every dark corner for them. Indeed, to bring forth my touchstone of Orwellian wisdom, and mold their characters into the likes of Old Testament prophets. I wallow in delight for occasions when I can garner my education; all my trials, and experiences molding them into jewels of verbal expressions, from which my boys may draw after I make my transition to the next plane. And, in my mind, I can see the day when my children, successful, strong and intelligent, clave together as old men, and indubitably agree they never would have reached their pinnacle of successes without my guidance and council.
So there we were, three as one in the stream, and as I opened my mouth to spew forth, my first well chosen phrases, little Ben jerked my arm. " Look Daddy, Sugar is happy now!"
I agreed, but before I could start again to effervesce forth, an angel of parenting popped up on my shoulder and whispered, "Let, them figure it out stupid. Just shut-up."
I huffed indignantly, but this angel has shown up before and each time it was correct, so I put my touchstone away, but not to far least another opportunity arose, and listened to the boys banter back and forth about Sugar.
They decided that Sugar was happy now because she was catching fish, and she did cheat a little bit, but thought since Homer might be to old to slide down the bank it was okay for Sugar to catch his fish. The game warden would not mind. They did ask me why Sugar was mean? After looking around for the little angel, least I get bonked in the head, I told them Sugar probably experienced bad things in her life, not much money and sometimes that turns a person sour. Ben wondered if they should apologize and I told them that since we only thought bad of Sugar in our minds there was no need, but it would be a kind of apology if they fished with her and encouraged her on to her second limit.
The boys waded forth and started casting. By now, Sugar was ecstatic, unfortunately singing , "Coming Around the Mountain", and unhooking trout number fourteen. Surrendering to her delight, she started doing a happy dance, squealing, while alternately squeezing and releasing her breasts like some bizarre strip dancer making the little trout held within appear and disappear like a magic act. Homer, bless his heart, acted like he had never seen anything so hilarious in his life than Sugar and her antics. He started his toothless, soundless laughing, doing a little shuffle dance of his own, and all the while, pointing at Sugar with his blue eyes throwing out delight like 4th of July sparkler.
After stringing her trout Sugar looked out at all the others not catching anything and turning said, "Homer, We jist about got our'en limit, so how's about putting some of that thar luck on all these people."
Homer, who had just sat down, breathless and blank, again struggled to rise as Sugar laughed saying, "Oh Homer, now you git on with it and Oral up all these folks here."
Homer, pushing up on his knees, finally rose to unsteady feet. He faced the crowd, closed his eyes, and with arm gestures that Billy Graham would be proud of, put the Hoodoo on, and Oraled up everyone fishing.
As he sat back down Sugar bellowed to the crowd, "Now, git to fishing cause tha luck could hit any minute now, they's no tellin' when."
A little while later, hit it did. First, the seventeen year old boy, pants low on his hips, backwards cap, and a streak of underwear visible at his waist, jumped at the first hit, then the old gentleman, with a white mustache, shiny new fishing vest and polished tackle pulled on his rod forcefully. My oldest Joseph was the next The couple sitting on upside-down five gallon buckets, Ben, and the snuff dipping bent little Granny Woman all received strikes together.
Sugar, watching the show shouted in all seriousness, "Homer, well you dun, dun it again this time. I's still got two durn fish to catch and you spread out to much luck. You gotta larn how to control that stuff."
Soon everyone, no matter of age, sex, or original attitude were all laughing, giving advise on where to cast next, telling stories of past fishing trips, and having a time of their lives. For each of us there had tapped into the well-spring of happiness and the cool, sparkling water ran through each of us soothing each and everyone.
The afternoon was fading, and lengthening shadows met like gripping hands. Most of the group had their limit and were individually fading off. I fished for awhile, catching a few with a grey caddis fly, but as usual, I stepped back and gained far more enjoyment watching the boys, and snapping pictures. Sugar had her sixteen, and was loudly counting each fish; just to make sure.
The boys were tired and we called it a day. We followed the short path to the car and were putting away our equipment just as Sugar and Homer waved; passing us on the way to their truck. It took a few minutes for Joseph and Ben to dig about the cooler professing their dying need for food and drink.
After they settled themselves in the car and I closed the trunk I could see Sugar, and a stooped shouldered Homer walking down the dusty, brown dirt road on this hazy summer's late afternoon. And I was blessed to see their love and sweet memories become apparent when Homer's hand, as it did 40 years earlier on a similar day, reached out taking Sugar's, and again, in response she stepped a little closer putting her head softy on his shoulder.