My mom had fixed pork chops in the pressure cooker. They were chewy, leathery, and dry. I dashed a bit of salt over my chop and my green beans, straight from the can and boiled in water. The mashed potatoes, made from instant flakes without measuring, received both butter and salt. They were a little sticky today. My little sister added salt to her plate as well.

My little brother had applesauce and a hot dog. Mom always let him eat what he wanted for fear he’d starve since he refused to eat the other foods.

My Dad sat at the head of the table, having arrived home about 10 minutes earlier. Busying herself at the stove had kept Mom from having to give him a kiss in front of us kids. She shooed him away until she was done. She joined us at the table, her glass of milk half full.

For a few minutes we ate and talked together, then I went upstairs to begin my homework. If I was lucky, I’d finish it before bedtime and get to watch a bit of TV. Life was simple and carefree. It was all I knew.

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