We left our perfectly flat driveway in Florida almost thirteen hours earlier. After many unplanned snack and bathroom stops along the way, we were finally winding our way up the steep incline of Route 276 to Grandpa’s house in Brevard, North Carolina. This was our first visit since grandma‘s funeral almost eight months ago.
As I stared out the window at the racing hickory trees and mountain maples, a well of sadness erupted in me. I fought hard to keep the tears from overflowing, and managed to limit them to a couple of droplets so no one else in the car would notice.
Dad’s loud announcement shocked me back into the present. We turned sharply into Grandpa’s driveway and ascended to the small gravel area on the side of the carport, where we parked. Through the windshield we could see the sun sliding down behind the mountain silhouettes in the distance. We exited the car and stood, watching in silent awe.
Beautiful wasn’t descriptive enough to describe the sunsets over the mountains of North Carolina. It seemed God painted and repainted the sky with oranges, yellows and reds, as his unseen brush anticipated the reflections of the sinking fireball.
Pops, as Grandpa likes to be called by his family, stepped out of the front door of the wooden cabin he had built so long ago, and hollered over to us:
“Enjoying the artwork, are ya? God does his best work at day’s end.”
Mom, Dad and Molly (my sister) ran to greet him as he descended the porch steps.
I remained by the car – still in awe -- remembering how Grammy would embrace me once the fireball was extinguished, and whisper to me, “God has finished His painting for today. He’ll start another tomorrow.” My eyes became moist with the memory.
Pops, seeing I was struggling with thoughts of Grammy, walked over and placed his arm around my shoulders. He shouted his love and understanding without saying a word. We both stood silently staring at the horizon.
Once the bright orb disappeared behind the granite peaks, darkness swallowed grandpa’s house. A few minutes earlier I heard a single Katydid start grinding out his high-pitched night song. Soon another answered, and then another, until now there were thousands upon thousands of these cricket-like creatures chirping from the trees in perfect harmony. Their noise surrounded us as we stood in the darkness.
My mind went back to my first memory of this house. I was six. I heard the Katydids for the first time and started sobbing in my bed. Grammy came in and pulled me into her arms and began stroking my hair.
“There, there, child. It’s only the Katydids. When God finishes His painting for the day, He likes to sit down and listen to soothing music. The Katydids are His orchestra. Try to hear what He hears.”
She kissed away my tears and laid me gently back into my pillow.
Since that night, I have heard what God hears -- a magnificent symphony to celebrate His masterpiece.
When Grandpa saw the liquid pools forming again in my eyes, he kissed my cheek and gently led me and the rest of the family into the house.
Once we finished telling Pops about our trip, we settled into our rooms, ate a light dinner and retired to the living room. Mom made some hot chocolate for each of us to enjoy in front of the fireplace. Grandpa pulled up Grammy’s rocker for me, knowing how melancholy I was feeling. As I rocked back and forth, warming my hands with the steaming mug, watching the flames flicker higher and higher in front of me, I looked over at Pops and smiled. I was thinking about the many times I had seen Grammy in this same setting, and how this was the perfect ending to a long day.
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