Angela had been working the Peoria market since 1991. It wasn’t that she had wanted to work but Joe needed the help and the kids were all gone. Jan,the oldest, lived with her successful-but-worthless lawyer husband in Bloomington, John, the youngest, had moved to Denver searching for himself and only finding a supervisory position at a local bakery, and Sandy, the middle child, who had died three years ago, suddenly, of a cancer that had tore through Sandy as viciously and quickly as a tornado in Nebraska.
So now it was just Angela and Joe working opening to closing in the Peoria Marketplace. Angie’s Candies was Joe’s idea, taking all the money they had saved after bringing up three children, working overtime and up the ladder at Catepillar, Inc. He had surprised her on their 25th wedding anniversary. They had gone to dinner at their favorite restaurant, Francine’s and were walking downtown, hand in hand but withoit much being said. Then, right in front of the new addition the the train station marketplace she stopped and went down on one knee. Angela, at first, was alarmed, thinking he had been hurt ir even worse, havinga heart attack. As he looked up and adjusted to stengthen his kneel, her fears were assuaged and she saw something emerge from inside her coat pocket.
“We’ve worked hard over the past 25 years. You’ve brought up three beautiful children, supported me in all the ups and downs at the office. Last month,” he began to falter and tried to hide it by adjusting his posture, clearing his throat, “last month, Darryl called me in…Angie, they’re cutting back. I was going to be gone no matter what. Any way, I, I was able to get a pretty good package… What I’m trying to say is, you’ve supported me for so long and have given me the dream of a wonderful family. I want to spend this next part supporting yours.”
Angie couldn’t help but feeling like the last moment she was in a similar situation. All those years ago with Joe.
“Yes,” she responded reactively, “I mean, what are you saying Joe?”
He raised the object in his hands. He held it up like an offering, a white box wrapped in a silver ribbon labeled Angie’s Candies. She didn’t understand as she slowly, tentively slipped one lose end away and the wrapped ribbon fell to the side. With shaking hands she peeled back the top lid to reveal a silver key inside.
“Joe?” Angie stammered. “Joe, what’s going on?”