Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: WEATHER (07/19/18)
TITLE: These Are My Memories
By Leola Ogle
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“You okay, Grandma?”
“Fine.” My granddaughter, Heather, is driving me to see the old farmhouse – my request before they put me in a nursing home.
The hum of the road lulls me to sleep. I dream of Mama, Grandma, my brothers, sister and evenings on the porch while Grandpa and Daddy stayed inside discussing crops, the weather, and the Bible.
These are my memories.
I awaken when Heather says, “We’re here, Grandma.”
Cliff and Janice are on the porch. Sorrow creeps over me at the dilapidated condition of the farm and barn. I brush at tears. Janice looks annoyed. She’s never liked the farm. That’s my fault. My desire to forsake my roots and be a city girl influenced her.
Heather helps me out of the car.
“Hey, Mom.” Janice hugs me. Cliff hugs me and calls me his favorite mom in the world – his private joke. These are my children.
I dust off the porch rocker. It’s a cool spring morning. I block out the voices, close my eyes and let my mind wander through my memories.
We were poor, but it took me years to realize it. Days were filled with hard work. I loved the evenings when we sat on the porch. Mama and Grandma would snap beans or churn butter while the twins, Matthew and Mark, ran in the yard and baby Sarah played on a blanket. I helped Mama and Grandma as best I could.
Nostalgia grips me with such intensity, I moan.
The breeze carries the familiar smells of my childhood – honeysuckle, peach and plum blossoms, hay, and grass. I remember the sounds of cows, whinnying of horses, Sarah’s baby noises, Mark and Matthew’s laughter, Mama and Grandma singing gospel songs.
But the remembered sound that stirs me is Daddy and Grandpa’s prayers. They prayed for health, crops, and the weather. The weather was important for the crops. As a child, I didn’t understand that. We were wheat farmers, with some corn and fruit trees. Grandma had her garden of vegetables.
“Mom.” I’m pulled from my thoughts when Janice thrusts a glass of tea in my hand, then follows Cliff and my grandson, Elliot, to the barn. I take a sip of tea and it awakens the memory of sweet tea and cobbler after supper. Mama and Grandma could bake just about anything.
Memories tumble through my mind in a kaleidoscope pattern. Matthew falling off the roof and breaking an arm. The year of drought when crops were scorched, and the prayer meeting for rain. We carried buckets of water from the pond to the crops until we couldn’t anymore because there was just enough water for the animals.
Sarah getting sick and all the prayers didn’t help. A storm started the night she stopped breathing. A clap of thunder echoed Daddy’s scream, “Please, God,” as he smacked Sarah’s chest with the palm of his hand. She gasped and started crying. To this day thunder reminds of the night Sarah came back to life.
Grandpa volunteered as the circuit preacher, a position he kept for twelve years. We held services in different houses in our community on Sundays. Daddy and Grandpa listened to preaching on the radio, but when they weren’t around, Mama and Grandma listened to country music.
We ate wild berries until our faces and hands were stained with juice. Grandma and Mama taught me to bake and make the best fried chicken. Gathering eggs every morning. Crying every time Grandpa killed a chicken for supper. We swam in the pond in summer. We played in the rain until mud squished between our toes.
These are my random memories. I fled home at eighteen, vowing never to return. Now my heart clings to my blessed childhood.
Storm clouds roll closer as Janice, Cliff, and Elliot return from the barn. Elliot is smiling. They tell me their plan for Elliot to renovate and revive the farm. My chin quivers. Tears slip from my eyes. Did they know my heartache over letting the farm go?
A clap of thunder signals a storm. As rain pummels down, I remove my shoes and ask Heather to help me off the porch. I turn my face heavenward, embrace the rain, and feel mud squish between my toes. I am that child again.
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