I was just driving along a country road. No particular place to go—just driving and letting my mind wander. Then I saw it! I slowed down and blinked, but it was still there.
I stopped my truck in the middle of the road, and when I came to myself I was standing in front of it, just staring. At first I didn’t hear her.
“Can I hep ya?” said a little white-headed woman sitting on the front porch. “Why don’t ya park that truck of yourn out of the road, come up and sit a spell? Cause you never can tell when one of them Biddix boys will come flying around that curve and couldn’t stop in time. Then we’d be in a real fix.”
“Yes, ma’am, I will. I’m sorry—I was just taken back to my childhood when I saw your house. My grandma used to live in one just like it.”
Two minutes later a red truck came flying around the curve, the boys in it waving, honking the horn and yelling, “Howdy, Granny!”
“Now, didn’t I tell ya about them Biddix boys?” she grumbled. “They ain’t got a lick of sense. Honking and hollering thataway ever time they go by. But, now, their mama is a goodhearted woman. She always checks on me to see if’n I need anything afore she goes to town. Ever now and then she sends one of them boys down here with some good ole pintos, greens and corn bread. Well, ya goin’ a come on up so we can talk for a while?”
“Yes, ma’am, thank you kindly.”
“Who was your grandma? I might know her if she was raised up hereabouts. Do ya want something to eat or drink? Thar’s some sweet tea in thar along with some biscuits and fried streaked meat. What about yore mama? She live in these parts? What’s your name, child?”
“My grandma lived in North Carolina; her name was Ferris. My mama’s name is Josey, and my name is Sara Jo. My mama liked her name all right, but she said she’d rather have a Sara than a Josey. She spelled my name like the Sara in the Bible. She added the Jo for my grandma.”
“Was Ferris her front name or last name? I named my young’uns good Bible names too. I was a hoping that would help them to live right. Some had a rough start, but with switchin’, lovin’ and prayin’—a powerful lot of prayin’—they turned out jest fine.
“Their daddy was a good man too. I knowed when I married up with him we would have a good life together, and we did—68 years. Why, that man could cook the best biscuits you ever et! He wasn’t brought up learnin’ how to cook, but he learned when my health started failing me. Him and the boys did all the outside work, and I did the inside and the eatin’ garden. I used to put up the prettiest jars you ever did see. When I got to where I couldn’ do that anymore, he had them boys learn how to hep me.
“Listen to me a-goin’ on now. Folks hereabouts call me Granny. Is your grandma and mama still a-livin? Are you married dup, girl?”
“Ferris was her front name. Grandma died several years back. My mama is still a-livin, but she don’t know me anymore. Well, sometimes she does. No, I’m not married up anymore. May I call you Granny? How many young’uns did you have?”
“I’m right sorry to hear about your mama. Me and my man had seven boys; most of them still live close and check on me real regular like. The one boy who moved off calls me all the time and comes home to see me whenever he gets a chance. I always wanted me a girl, but don’t ya know God saw fit to give me seven boys. I got me a passel of grands and even great-grands too. Yes, the Lord was good to me.
“Now baby girl, when ya was standing in my front yard, your face looked so sad. What were you really lookin’ at?”
“Your quilt you have hanging up. My grandma and mama started making me one just like that, and I was supposed to help, but I got mad and run off before it was finished. My mama was angry when I run away, and she put that quilt up before it was finished.
I took me awhile to find myself, and when I did I hightailed it home. Grandma had died and we kept telling one another we would get it out and finish it, but we never did. Now my mama can’t help me either. So I have a half-finished quilt that was started in love but put up in anger that I don’t know if it will ever get finished. I don’t know how to do the old ways of quiltmaking.”
“Well, girl, do you know the Lord? Is he the one who he’ped ya find yourself?”
“Yes, Granny, I once was lost to myself but never from God. I finally got smart enough to call out to him and bam! There he was!”
“Do you have ary more kinfolk besides your mama?”
“Yes, I have two grown kids and two grandkids and a stepdad. My stepdad is awful good to my mama. Granny, it sure is peaceful sitting here with you: It makes me feel right at home.”
“Well, thank ya, child. Now where do you live?”
“I live in North Carolina. I was just visiting Tennessee shopping for Christmas and wanted to get away from the crowds. I guess I better get going; I don’t want to get lost in the dark. Thank you again for letting me visit with you.” I gave Granny a hug and walked off her porch.
“Sara Jo,” she called after me, “Ya come back to see me agin, ya hear? Bring that quilt top with ya and I’ll hep ya finish it. Our Maker has pieced our hearts together. I know he wants me to tell ya you’ll always be welcome here as one of my girls.”
Standing in her yard, tears streaming down my face, I look in her eyes and I see Jesus.
[Brenda Smith lives in Waynesville with an older beagle named Otis. A retired nurse, she volunteers with Palliative Care in Haywood County and belongs to the Long’s Chapel knitting ministry.]