Nearly raised on a church pew, the hard kind, all scarred and damaged and oiled and polished nearly daily with Aunt Jane’s lemon Pledge, I knew just which ones clean enough to stretch out upon, and which ones to avoid, since Ricky Amos was wont to wet his pants every Sunday morning. Then again, come Sunday night.
I was raised respectful and quiet. I’d memorized the page numbers of most of the old hymns, and had some distaste for the newer choruses having no proper verses. And don’t get me started on skipping any of those verses during song service. I think not! I think NOT!
Wasn’t my call, but since my Mama was the pianist come Sundays, I made my petitions known, make no mistake.
Nearly raised on a pew did not, however, preclude my mind from wandering. I’d ask silent forgiveness from the Lord Almighty, staring hard at the portrait of Jesus, all tanned and smiling mysteriously like the Mona Lisa whist I prayed. Me and the Lord, we had an agreement. I wouldn’t close my eyes (I learned early on when I did, folks thought I was looking for salvation. Again. And again. Not that I didn’t need a re-up every now and then, but all those loving pats on the cheek wore on me some.), and the Lord would listen even so.
And once forgiveness was requested, I’d snuggle in just a little closer to my lavender splashed grandmama Lily and she’d get to work. An silent agreement, just like me and Jesus, Grandmama Lily would pull an well-faded, flower-dappled, soft as a baby kitten handkerchief from her pocketbook. Once upon a time, she’d let me rifle around in there to keep me occupied during the most dry of sermons. Until I sent her Chapstick rolling down the center aisle.
And that was that.
But this? Our new solution satisfied all my needs for occupation and imagination. With a little twist here and a little tuck there, a quick roll and a poof, why, in my hand would be the most glorious hanky baby-in-a-basket! The first time Grandmama displayed this skill, I gave Jesus a quick look, thanking him for the miracle he’d wrought. And he kept on wroughting–week after week. Even when the Hell Fire was being preached, Grandmama would twist and roll and wrap and poof and once again, a hanky baby in a blanket was laid gently in my little girl hands.
Last I saw Grandmama, not so very long ago, now, she lay in a pristine hospital bed, sweet and little, bright white curls like clouds ’round her gentle face. We’d all, all the cousins and kids and other kin once and twice removed, come to say our goodbyes. And durned if my Grandmama, seeing my distress, durned if she didn’t twist and roll and puff and poof and lay a sweet little hanky baby in a blanket in my big girl hands.
My treasure. My Grandmama.