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Mormon Ghost Stories

Potluck Riff Raff

Cover Image for Potluck Riff Raff
Ghoulish Cumom
By: Ghoulish Cumom

“Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.”

Romans 12:20

Cathy could smell the cheese wafting through the stuffy air as the funeral potatoes baked in the oven. Judy’s grandfather, Al, had passed away and a small luncheon was being held afterward. Cathy had volunteered the dish she so proudly made at each potluck event. Hers were always a crowd favorite.

Ding! The timer signaled Cathy to pull out the bubbling potatoes. With hot pads, she placed it on the stove to cool.

A rustle of footsteps filled the hall as the funeral ended and the attendees made their way to the cultural hall for lunch. Cathy hurried to grab her dish, when a shadow fell across her wrinkled hands.

She looked up to see the new ward member, by whom she had sat a row ahead of last week in church, walk in with an almost equally delicious looking dish of funeral potatoes! How dare she!? Hadn’t she told her last week before that no one else ever brought funeral potatoes because hers were superior?

Plastering on a fake smile, she greeted the woman with a nod.

“Hello, Martha, was it?” Her voice is not unfriendly.

“Marsha, actually.”

“Silly me. Oh I see you also brought funeral potatoes. Guess we’ll see who leaves with leftovers?” Cathy snidely sang.

Marsha looked taken aback but said nothing. Cathy smiled and hurried out into the hallway with her bake.

Upon entering the church gymnasium, Cathy took in the tables and chairs set up around the room and rested her eyes on the food already laid out. Salads, rolls, sandwiches and desserts sparsely filled the long folding tables. Right next to the salads, she carefully set her cheesy funeral potatoes down and anxiously waited for the prayer to be offered, seating herself at an empty table nearby.

Marsha entered a moment later and placed her near identical dish next to Cathy’s.

How would anyone know whose was whose? Cathy steamed.

Before she could march up and move Marsha’s potato dish, the bishop walked up to the front of the room and began to start the luncheon off.

“Thank you all for being here today. Before we eat, Brother Bingham will now offer the prayer.” The bishop gestured to a balding man seated at the back of the room. He stood and reverently but loudly offered a short prayer.

Cathy didn’t hear a word he said. She was so focused on getting the praise she deserved.

“Amen!” echoed the congregation. Immediately a line formed as people heaped food on their plates.

Soon, all the funeral potatoes amongst the other sides and desserts disappeared, all none the wiser as to who made what.

Cathy received no compliments that day. She fumed.

Marsha did this.

A few days later, Cathy attended a Relief Society service activity with the other women from her congregation. She immediately engaged in conversation with the Relief Society President.

“Hello, Sister Welch! So nice to see you. How are you?”

“I'm fine, thank you. How are you, Cathy?”

“Oh, I'm just wonderful. I brought my famous chocolate chip cookies for the refreshments tonight and they turned out especially well this time. You have to try them.”

“They sound delicious. I will try one for sure,” Sister Welch said nonchalantly.

Cathy looked around the room and spied Marsha by the far wall. Cathy did not approach her, but stayed put. Marsha would soon come to her.

The ladies put food kits together for those in need. Ziploc bags and food items lined a long table and the women formed an assembly line. Everyone chatted and made conversation with one another while they filled bags. They made quick work of it and an hour later had a large pile of bags ready to be donated.

Sister Bell, the Relief Society Second Counselor asked, “Will anyone help me with the refreshment table?”

Cathy raised her hand, “I’d be happy to.”

She left the room and walked to the kitchen where the cookies and punch were being stored.

Cathy didn’t grab her plate of cookies, but instead took the punch bowl back to the service room. Once the refreshment table was set up, the women made their way to the other side of the room for the anticipated cookies and punch.

Cathy again volunteered to help out and poured everyone a glass of punch as the women put cookies on their plates.

When Marsha reached the front of the line, Cathy handed her the next cup and smiled her warmest smile. Marsha made a small smile in return and took her drink and plate of goodies to her seat.

Some time later, a heavy thud was heard across the room. Several ladies gathered around Marsha as she lay crumpled on the old carpet floor. Her eyes were wide with fear and she tried to speak, clutching her throat. She couldn’t get enough air and gasped. Suddenly, she fell unconscious.

“Is she dead?” one woman asked.

“Somebody call 911!”

Rain fell on a solemn crowd a week later as they walked into the old church building. Not to worship, but to celebrate a life they had only just begun to know.

An old woman with wrinkled hands walked in with them, carrying her worn casserole dish.

She laid her warm funeral potatoes on the table.

Faintly she whispered, “Goodbye ‘Martha.’”

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