I stepped out of the taxi, hauling my carry-on bag behind me. Handing over the fare, I muttered my thanks. The driver left me standing on the curb, staring at the huge porch wrapping the ivy-covered house, overwhelmed by the scent of magnolia and memories.
ďChild, stop gawking and come over here right now!Ē Before I knew it, I was swept into my grandmotherís arms, enveloped in her familiar perfume. The tears I had pushed down in the airport and the cab came spilling out. I was home.
ďShush, now.Ē Granny rocked me back and forth right in the middle of the sidewalk, cooing and stroking my hair. I was a grown woman, married with three children, yet standing here I was a child again, in need of everything.
ďLetís go inside. Iíve got your room ready and supperís on the table.Ē She kept an arm around me, directing my steps. At her age, I should be supporting her. Instead, Iím not sure I would have made it to the door without her.
I dropped my bag inside and closed my eyes, reveling in more scents from my past: fried chicken, old books and biscuits. My mouth watered and I swallowed hard as I said the first words I could manage. ďIím so glad to be here, Granny. You have no idea.Ē
She made a little clucking noise. ďDonít you worry. Weíll talk about it when youíre ready. First off, letís eat. Iíve never had a problem that didnít seem a little lighter after buttered biscuits and a glass of sweet tea.Ē Granny smiled and I even smiled a little back. It felt tight, unnatural, like a muscle I hadnít stretched in awhile.
I ate like it was my last meal. Or my first meal, Iím not sure which. The food was heavenly, my appetite hearty and the conversation light. I enjoyed it, but as soon as I pushed back my plate, I was overcome with a return of the paralyzing weariness.
ďYou go up to your room. Iíll see to the dishes, then we can talk.Ē I must have looked like I wanted to protest because she squinted, focusing right on my eyes, daring me to be contrary. I decided against it.
The uneven steps led to the room I loved. Nothing had changed in the years since Iíd laid eyes on the double-wedding-ring quilt, the gilded mirror and the floral wallpaper. It was all I could do to take my shoes off before crawling into bed. Why couldnít I get it together? I used to be so strong. Exhausted, I slept.
I stirred when Grannyís rocking chair squeaked against the floor. Knitting needles clicked in perfect rhythm and I rubbed my eyes. Iíd never known her to mince words, so neither would I. ďIím tired, Granny. I canít-- I donít want to do it anymore.Ē
ďDo what?Ē She continued knitting.
ďAny of it. I love my girls, but Iím tired of being ďMommyĒ. I love my job at the agency, but itís the same people with the same problems every day. The poverty and need never end. I love Michael, but I canít remember how we thought our lives would be. Iím not sure I know who I am anymore and Iím too tired to try and find out. When does life slow down so I can enjoy it?Ē I paused. ďBut the minute I ask that question, I feel guilty. Guilty that Iíve got so much when others have so little. What right do I have to stand here and whine about how hard my life is?Ē
Granny took a deep breath. ďI certainly donít have all the answers, child. But I do know that Iíve been bone-tired a time or two. Iíve learned that itís usually when Iíve lost sight of my passion and my purpose. I know it sounds like a bumper sticker, but if I ask God to remind me that I am His hands and feet and hope wherever I am--well, then I remember my passion. In turn, I feel the holy fire in my bones again and that gives me strength like an eagle. Youíve hit the bottom because youíve lost your passion. Stay here awhile. Take time to pray, to remember and come out of that pit. When youíve done that, Heíll put you in a place where passion will flow out of you like water out of a fountain. And, oh boy, the devil better watch his step!Ē
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