My Winter Love
When we left home on Thanksgiving eve, there was not a cloud in the sky. The sun was shining with an autumn haze bouncing shadows along the mountain terrain. The further we got north, the darker it got. The snow clouds rolled in and hugged the top of the pines like a best friend.
Mom said, “Hiram, I think winter is gonna slide on in and make autumn take a back seat”. Hiram laughed nervously as he steered our 46 Ford Club Coupe along the narrow path up Caney Creek Holler. We were going to grandma’s house for Thanksgiving dinner, intending to get there in early evening and spend the night wrapped in grandmas love.
“Hiram”, I couldn’t even say his name. He was the tallest man I had ever seen in my four years of life. I hadn’t seen very many men since my dad died and left me when I was 10 months old. One day Hiram came to church with a big guitar and sang for the congregation like a song sparrow in a sycamore tree. As the congregation was leaving he was touching Moms hand and she was saying, “Hiram, how would you like to come have dinner with the Bush family”? He said, “Grace, I would consider it a pleasure”.
My four year old life just fell apart after they had that wedding dance at the church three months later. He went home with us and never left; mom said that I should call him dad. I decided I would never call him dad or anything else. I just decided I would not even look at him because he had taken my mom away from me.
The trip toward Grandmas turned into a winter day. As we drove up the holler the snow clouds hung just above our windshield taunting us with darkness. As the snow started falling I thought of grandma and I snuggled low in the seat, wrapped in my Lassie quilt that grandma had made me for my 4th birthday and went to sleep.
I was awakened to the sound of spinning wheels as our car went skidding off the road; Mom was screaming “Hiram watch out”! He barely missed the tree and our car set there in the ditch buried in snow and ice. Hiram tried and tried to get the car out of the ditch but nothing worked.
Hiram said,” Grace, how much farther do you think it is to Grandmas house”? Mom said, “It’s probably another two miles”. Hiram said, “Grace get the baby bundled up, we are going to have to finish this trip on foot.”! Mom said, “I think it’s a good idea to cut across the mountain, because it will be so much closer”.
My snow filled hair was cracking with the sound of snowflakes as we trampled across the mountain. My boots and my gloves were getting a good work out as I parted the weeds through the woods. Mom held my hand very tightly and told me what a good job I was doing.
All of a sudden Hiram stopped walking in mid air and scooped me up under the arms and put me gently around his shoulders, I swished the snow with my scarf knocking it off the trees as he walked and of course I just had to yank the icicles off the low lying branches. I felt like I was as tall as the sky as I felt the bounce, bounce, up, down, up, down, his big feet making squishing sounds as I bounced high up in the sky. This man who I feared so much was doing a really good job of carrying me on his shoulders and I felt the warmth grow beneath my winter coat exactly where my heart was beating with the winter cold.
It seemed like we cleared a million woods before we found Grandmas house setting in a beautiful valley. All the lights were on and the old farm was all aglow with the brightness of home. Grandma came running out the kitchen door with her apron strings flying in the air. She said, “Oh praise God, praise God, I was so worried”.
Just before we entered the kitchen door, Hiram deposited me at the end of the walk-way. I turned around looked him in the eye and said, “Thanks daddy”. Mom smiled, dad smiled and they each took my hand and we followed grandma into the smell of Thanksgiving.
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