Frannie Sue and Momma drove to church for Sunday night’s service. The crowder peas and okra were warming in the oven, as was the freshly baked peach pie that Momma made while Frannie Sue wasn’t looking. She knew her daughter intended to serve watermelon for dessert, but Momma managed to sneak in the pie. She would have some explaining to do when Frannie Sue saw it, but she’d worry about that later. It wasn’t every day that a pastor came to supper. Frannie Sue honestly believed Pastor Bob was interested in her southern cooking, but Momma knew better.

The church was only a few minutes away and Frannie Sue and Momma rode along in silence. Frannie Sue could sense the excitement that coursed through her Momma. She noticed that Momma had artfully rearranged the décor while she was cooking in the kitchen. Momma liked to put on airs of southern hospitality and gentility, while Frannie Sue was more down to earth and preferred homespun type surroundings. She didn’t yell at Momma, but she couldn’t imagine what was on Momma’s mind to make her so excited. But Momma had watched unseen from the window as Frannie Sue sat on the front porch shelling peas and talking to Pastor Bob that afternoon. She saw a look on Pastor Bob’s face that convinced her he was interested in more than Frannie Sue’s cooking.

Frannie Sue was 35 years old and had never been married. She led a full life and seemed happy, but Momma knew time was running out. That girl of hers had better start fixing herself up and showing an interest in men. Momma didn’t want her hanging around at home much longer. Frannie Sue had simply not met any men that appealed to her. But, as she had promised earlier, Frannie Sue was wearing a new shirt and jeans for the occasion. To make Momma happy, Frannie Sue wore Grandma Ethel’s pearls with her new shirt.

“Momma, I don’t know why you’re so nervous. We’ve certainly had many folks over for supper. You know I’m a good cook and everything will be fine.”

“Frannie Sue, I know you can cook,” said Momma. “I only wish you would take more time with your appearance and make an effort to look like you were raised in a good southern family.”

“Momma, it’s only Pastor Bob who’s coming to supper,” Frannie Sue retorted. “Why ever do I have to fuss?”

“You are as dense as banana pudding,” Momma replied. “He is a nice-looking, single gentleman, just about your age. Doesn’t that interest you at all?”

“Oh, Momma!” Frannie Sue shot back. “He is a pastor. How can you think such things? I’m sure the only thing on his mind is getting a free supper. That’s all most pastors think about anyway, you know.”

Momma was horrified. “That’s a terrible thing to say about pastors. Just remember, he may be a man of God, but he is still a man, after all. Men have needs and desires whether they’re plumbers or pastors.”

Now it was Frannie Sue’s turn to be exasperated, but she kept quiet. They were almost at the church door and it wouldn’t do if they walked in looking angry or upset.

Sunday evening services were fun. There was a lot of hymn singing and sharing testimonies. The message was generally brief and inspiring. Frannie Sue and Momma sat near the front on the right hand side of the sanctuary. There were about 75 people present and that was a good amount for Sunday evening. Pastor Bob started promptly at 6:00 p.m. His mind was on the supper that awaited him after the service, and he couldn’t help but feel excited about sharing this meal with Frannie Sue and her Momma.

Pastor Bob was fairly new in town and had made a great impression on everyone with his friendly ways, inspirational messages and Bible studies. He was always available for emergencies, funeral and wedding services and hospital visits. He had been invited to several homes for supper, but tonight felt different. Tonight he had a hard time concentrating on his message because his eyes often drifted toward Frannie Sue. She was sitting directly under an overhead lamp and the light made her red hair gleam like a burnished halo.

“This will never do,” he thought, struggling to focus on his sermon. He turned slightly in the pulpit so that he looked away from her. She did not seem to be the least bit interested in him. Frannie Sue was an enigma. She was intelligent and pretty, but she lived by her own rules and standards. If you met Frannie Sue downtown, she would be in jeans and a plain cotton shirt. She seemed totally unaware of how charming she was. Pastor Bob had never met any woman like her. It seemed to him that most women put on airs, dressing up, loading on their jewelry, even to go to Wal-Mart.

The service ended with a lively singing of “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms.” Frannie Sue and Momma headed home, with Pastor Bob following in his little Honda Civic. He thought he could smell the crowder peas and okra as soon as they pulled into the driveway. He wasn’t sure which enticed him more, the cooking aroma or Frannie Sue herself.

“I would like to call you Momma, if you don’t mind,” said Pastor Bob. Momma blushed and was delighted. Frannie Sue rolled her eyes up as she cleared the table of dishes. “Frannie Sue is a fine cook,” Pastor Bob exclaimed. “I’ll bet she learned it all from you.” Momma blushed brighter. Dinner on the back porch turned out well and Pastor Bob praised the cooking and the fine company of two dear ladies. Frannie Sue stepped back onto the porch with watermelon for dessert. Pastor Bob’s eyes sparkled with anticipation. As she placed a plate in front of him, he could detect a light aroma of lavender that he hadn’t noticed before. He thought Frannie Sue must have applied perfume some time between the main course and dessert. He smiled.

“It has been a wonderful evening,” Pastor Bob said. “I haven’t had crowder peas and okra since my dear mother cooked for me years ago. You have a lovely home, Momma.” Momma blushed again. “Frannie Sue does a fine job of keeping house,” Momma replied.

Frannie Sue walked Pastor Bob out the front door and down the driveway to his car. Momma stayed behind, peering through the curtains. “Frannie Sue, I enjoyed dinner very much. You and Momma are wonderful company." Frannie Sue thanked him and offered her hand as a parting gesture. Pastor Bob took her hand in his and pulled her close for a goodnight hug, startling Frannie Sue. She hugged him back with her mind racing. Good Christian people often hugged in church when greeting each other. This probably didn’t mean anything. After all, he’s a pastor, she thought. Then she remembered what Momma had said about “men being men whether they were plumbers or pastors.” Now it was Frannie Sue’s turn to blush.

Frannie Sue fell asleep thinking of how warm and strong Pastor Bob’s hand felt in hers.

 

By Frannie (Frannie516@comcast.net)



The Frannie Sue Stories

 


 

 




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