SURRATT: Meditations on living alone

Published 4:00 am Friday, February 4, 2022

My wife and daughter are leaving me.

But before the gossipers start wagging their tongues about marital discord in our happy home, my two ladies are going on a weekend trip to the rugged country of Madison, where my daughter, who teaches children’s Sunday school at her church, is attending a Sunday school conference. My wife, who does not teach Sunday school, is going as a companion and to have some free time to herself (and she deserves it). I’m staying here in Vicksburg.

On Friday morning, they’ll pack up their things, get in my wife’s car and drive away, leaving me to fend for myself.

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It’s not the first time I’ve been alone because my wife, or my wife and daughter, went on trips and left me alone or we were separated because I went to a new job several weeks or months ahead and they followed.

Those times I’ve been by myself I’ve relied on my keen survival instincts. I’m not a cook, but I know how to boil water, work a microwave oven and read the directions on a frozen dinner. On at least three occasions I’ve been in homes or apartments with a full kitchen that allowed me to make my two specialties — spaghetti and heated chicken tenders (or fish sticks) with vegetables and rice on the side. Soup was always a staple and cereal, Pop-Tarts and toast with peanut butter were the mainstays for breakfast.

After Hurricane Katrina, where I spent almost 11 months in one of the notorious FEMA trailers (more on that at another time), my wife and daughter stayed in Baton Rouge and came on weekends so we could work on our storm-damaged house.

The trailer had a stove, but its two propane tanks were for the stove, the heater and the water heater. Since I preferred to have a hot shower, I became a microwave genius and was about to develop another specialty when we finally moved out from the trailer.

My diet during my stay in the trailer included soup cooked in the microwave and Lean Cuisine and Healthy Choice frozen dinners that could easily be placed in the microwave. I also developed a new specialty — microwaved scrambled eggs that were very fluffy.

When I took the job with The Post, I lived alone for about two weeks but instead of using the stove in our apartment, I reverted back to my post-Katrina days and stocked up on the frozen dinners I ate in Pascagoula after the storm, with an occasional return to spaghetti.

Several years later, when my mother-in-law was ill and my wife spent time in Baton Rouge with her, I was fortunate to have my daughter, who like her mother is a good cook, staying with me so occasionally I left the microwave alone, except to boil water for tea.

So now it has gone full cycle. My wife and daughter will be gone Friday and most of Saturday and I’ll be trying to survive. Fortunately, my wonderful wife has left some very good dishes for me so I won’t be forced to struggle on my own. But I’ll miss them and pray for their safe trip and be glad I’m not eating frozen dinners.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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