“Did you hear me? I’m ready to go.” declared Alma Jean Walker. “I’ve got things to do and places to go.”
“What is she talking about this morning?” asked Betty Jean’s husband Joe. Lately he thought Granny’s conversations had tended to wander and not make much sense.
“Grandma wants to go get her hair done today, said she wants to look good, ‘cause she’s going home for Christmas.” answered Betty Jean.
“Going home for Christmas? Are you kidding? She’s going home to Alabama? I mean your granny is a hundred years old. Who’s left down there anyway?”
“I don’t know, but if she said it I believe her. Remember she told us she would see a hundred, ‘cause ninety-nine and half wouldn’t do.” laughed Betty Jean.
“Alright, I’ll see you later. But you do know Christmas is tomorrow?”
# # # # # # # # # #
“Joe you should’ve seen this little old lady at the hairdresser’s. She was cracking jokes and telling everyone how she was going home for Christmas. Everyone wished her a safe trip and there were plenty of hugs and kisses all around. I didn’t have the heart to tell them that Granny doesn’t even have a ticket.”
“Chile, I hear what you’re saying, but you don’t know like I know. Now be quiet and help me with my dress.” chastised Alma Jean
“Yes, ma’am. This one here is your favorite right?” asked Betty Jean.
“That’s right, it is, you know Granny has always liked to look nice. Baby, I want you to gather all the family tonight, I’ve got something I want to give ‘em .
# # # # # # # # # #
The family gathered that night at Betty Jean and Joe’s, and most were curious about what Granny had to say. Alma Jean sat in her rocker, her neatly coiffed white hair catching the light. She had on her favorite pressed dress. Her eyes shown with wisdom that only a hundred years of living could embody.
“Chillum, Granny don’t have much time. I’ve got a ride to catch, so listen close. Silver and gold I don’t have but what I have I give to you all. She said with a sweep of her hand to the grands, greats and great-greats. I give you my blessing; this family has a divine assignment. I seen it in a dream, one day everyone will know the Walker name. I only ask that you keep God first and give him all the glory. Y’all hear me?”
“Yes ma’ams.” went around the room. Alma Jean had always commanded respect from her clan.
“Now hand me my Bible and the picture of my dear Cleophas. He always said I liked to make an entrance.” she said chuckling at the memory.
“Here you go Granny, but what are you talking about?” Betty Jean said as she handed her the Bible and the framed picture.
“It’s close to midnight chile and I won’t be late. I can almost hear those wheels and hooves now.”
“Wheels and hooves?” Joe asked thinking surely Granny had lost it now.
“Sho’ son, on that golden chariot with them white horses.” Granny chuckled. “All’s I want is for it to dip here, low enough to get me.”
“Okay, Granny” Betty Jean and Joe said in unison with a side-glance at each other.
The family went about their business of preparations for Christmas. The house was filled with laughter, gift wrapping and cooking. Just the way Alma Jean Walker loved it. Just after a midnight there was a knock at the front door. Betty Jean went to answer it but there was no one there.
“Huh? I wonder what caused that knock?”
“Betty Jean! Look at Grandma, she’s smiling but I don’t think she hears or sees me.” exclaimed Betty Jean’s sister. Granny appeared to be looking at someone past them, her smile widen, she sat back and closed her eyes.
Joe felt for a pulse, but there was none. A piece of paper fell from Alma Jean’s hand and Joe gave it to Betty Jean to read.
In tears Betty Jean read aloud what Granny had wrote, “Dear Family, I want you all to always celebrate Christmas this way. No sadness on my home going day, but a celebration for the birth of Jesus. I never would want to upstage the Lord’s Day, but Joe I told you I’d be home for Christmas, that chariot swung low enough to carry me home! Remember to love and take care of one another. Love always, Granny.”
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