“We’ll be on the road tomorrow morning,” my sister Patty said when I called with the heartbreaking news of my husband’s passing.

“We’ll fetch anything you and the girls need,” her husband Mike said.

The following day, Patty drove them from their door in Prestonsburg, Kentucky, to mine in eleven hours. Kelly, my California daughter, and I kept their dinner at ready. We ran to hug their necks when they stepped down from their Jeep truck at 10:30 that night.

Praise God! Our rescue party arrived safe and sound.

One of my three younger sisters, from her infancy Patricia Jo, aka Patty, sustains her commitment to offering comic relief when necessary. Furthermore, her husband bears the same gift. Just the team my daughters and I needed to walk the mournful path ahead.

For instance, when the five of us gathered at the funeral home, Mike’s voice, his praise of the casket I preferred, yet not voiced, confirmed my husband would approve of my choice. My daughters Kelly and Ruth also agreed.

A following morning during hen chores, I determined to muck the house within the next day or two. Yet, I didn’t have enough straw. And I’d emptied the last bag of hen feed into the can.

“Iris, what can I do for you today?” Mike asked at the breakfast table.

“Well, the hen house needs mucking and I need straw. And the hens are going to need feed. Would you mind driving about half an hour to the feed store? I’ll call in the order and they’ll have it ready for you.”

The next day, Kelly and I cleaned the hen house and laid a bedding of fresh straw.

Later, Patty said, “We’re going grocery shopping today. What would you like, Iris?”

“With the lasagna and main dishes from neighbors, we’ve plenty food. We could use fruits, vegetables, and greens. I’d like to make a pot of hamburger-vegetable soup.”

My sister filled the refrigerator with fruits, salad greens, and vegetables, including what she thought was a bag of large oranges, to later discover she’d grabbed a bag of pink grapefruit.

“Doggone. Mike and I don’t like grapefruit,” she said.

Once my sister and brother-in-law returned to their Kentucky home, Kelly discovered the bag of grapefruit in the fridge. “Mom, would you like grapefruit with breakfast?”

I thought of childhood breakfasts when my mother prepared halves of grapefruits with a sprinkle of sugar on top for my four sisters and me. “Sure!”

After Kelly returned to her home in California, I sat alone at the kitchen counter where she’d sat next to me four weeks during her father’s illness, funeral, and afterward. I sprinkled sugar on the last half of grapefruit and cut the peel and membrane sections as I’d observed my mother.

Dear Reader, I recently bought a bag of organic pink grapefruit at Fresh Thyme Market: enough to enjoy with fourteen breakfasts of fresh eggs and toast. Or oatmeal, French toast, or a hefty bagel with cream cheese.

A bittersweet comfort.

Contact Iris at irisfarmletters@gmail.com