the little dirt path through the woods was playful and mysterious.
old cedar trees towered above her, their exposed roots threatening to trip her if she wasn’t careful. she’d stubbed her toes on those roots many times.
the woods sheltered her from the hot sun in summer and frigid winds in the winter. she also escaped the multitude of bats buzzing her head on hot summer evenings.
she walked that little dirt path through the woods to grandma’s house almost daily. she’d skipped, run, laughed and cried walking through these trees hundreds of times as a little girl, a young woman, a teenager and adult.
grandma and grandpa lived in a small two-bedroom house. it was white with salmon-colored shutters and a detached garage. they built the practical abode for themselves after her parents married and she was born.
visitors entering the front door saw the television a few feet in front of them. a coat closet housing extra chairs was immediately on your right with a half-wall to the left, serving dual purpose as a bookshelf on its other side.
the living room furniture included a handsome taupe-colored sofa. its fabric had a delicate, subtle pattern woven into it. there was also a wooden rocker and matching blue chairs with the same pattern as the sofa.
grandpa’s blue chair was next to the bookshelf, facing away from the large picture window. grandma’s blue chair was a rocker with a matching ottoman. she sat at the other end of the north-facing window. she sat in that chair for endless hours, using the abundance of natural light to crochet doilies, scarves and other wonders made with yarn and a crochet hook.
the back side of their house was more interesting, more colorful, less formal. after visitors wandered the little dirt path through the woods, the sidewalk appeared to guide them to the back door.
most folks walked up the few steps to enter the house this way. the back entry offered a small sink for washing up while the opposite wall offered a strategically placed closet for depositing smelly barn clothes. the basement stairs were straight ahead. several stairs on the right took you up through the kitchen door.
countless meals, cookies and loaves of homemade bread were cooked and baked in the small kitchen. the same number of card games were likely won and lost at the kitchen table. if that table talked, oh, the stories it would tell.
each growing season, grandma tended a massive garden. some years, it was next to a corn field, and some years it was soybeans, depending on the rotation. you’d find raspberry bushes, rhubarb plants, green peas, ground cherries, corn and kohlrabi. grandma had a spectacular variety of good things growing in the dirt.
grandpa could be found there periodically, mostly an unwilling helper. he often got in trouble with the tiller when he confused the garden plants with the weeds.
in the spring, summer and fall, they worked in the garden. grandma gave the orders, grandpa attempted to carry them out. it went badly at times. if the wind was just right, you’d hear them hollering at each other across the farm.
the south side of the house sheltered the real jewels: the zinias. she loved and remembered the zinnias grandma planted there each year. bold, brilliant and resilient, these laughing, sturdy flowers lasted deep into the fall until a hard frost took them out each year.
she had always been with these two, it seemed, especially grandma. she could not, in fact, remember ever being without them. their home was her second home only a few steps away. the small house was her safe place, the door always open for cookies and comfort.
she had countless memories of saturday nights spent watching ‘the lawrence welk show,’ eating fried sunfish and playing 500 at the kitchen table.
she watched elvis rise to fame on ‘the ed sullivan show’ and cried listening to wayne newton on the stereo. she had a crush on him. his songs offered love, drawing her in as she searched for more of it.
the fancy taupe sofa was her bed for sleepovers and fun, her sick bed when she was ill. grandma lovingly tucked her in each night she stayed there.
it was hard to reconcile the dichotomy, knowing the same woman who loved her so well was the same woman who cursed her before she was born. there was more to this story than she had been told.
grandma loved her and mothered her. she was constant and reliable. she applied mud to the bee stings, wiped her tear-stained eyes and face, cleaned and bandaged the scrapes and cuts. she put ice on the bruises after the cows kicked her in the barn at milking time. she mothered her. she loved her.
grandma was always there, just like the chocolate chip oatmeal cookies stashed in the basement chest freezer. they weren’t hidden well and disappeared like magic. grandma knew but she never let on.
one day, as an adult, she finally saw what she had not seen before.
father god had given her grandma as her momma.
she cried. and she was so grateful.
(copyright 2017 jane doe)