by Clover Jernesy
As Adisa was walking back to his room his mind kept visiting the conversation he just had with his mom and dad, wondering what was it they wanted to tell him? My dad has never had a problem before telling me what’s on his mind, nor my mom for that matter. They looked so serious! Dad whatever it is did not want me to notice that it is something very troubling for him.
Is something wrong back at home? Did he get fired from his job? Is he sick? What could it be? Lying down on his bed Adisa, drifted off to sleep and dreamed of Marie. They were walking across a little bridge that was behind the engineering complex, hand in hand, smiling at one another and laughing.
Adisa placed his arms around her waist pulling her close when someone knocked at the door waking him, it was Sammy, “Hey man where you been, we needed a fourth man on the court?” Ah my parents came up to visit and we went to eat over at Granny’s. “Oh that’s good your parents coming to see ya’ man.
I was just checking on you, is everything cool?” Yea, they are staying at Granny’s and I am going there after I finish studying for this last exam. So, If I don’t see Fred before I leave, let him know where I’ll be and not to send the campus police looking for me.” Yea man, I got you, later gator, and “yea later.”
After studying three hours for his final chemistry exam and feeling confident he knew the material frontwards and backwards, a loud, healthy scream of accomplishment permeated the dorm’s walls. A few of the guys came running down to Adisa’s room to see what was going on. BAM, BAM, BAM. Adisa calmly opens the door looking like an astute gentlemen with a nerdish smile. “Yes, may I help you?” We thought we heard you screaming. Yeah man, what’s going on? “I JUST ACED MY CHEMISTRY EXAM!!! YEA! YEA! YEA.”
They began giving Adisa and each other ‘high fives’ and saying “you the man,” yelling and running up and down the hallway. Some were in their underwear and one even came out of his room wearing only his jock strap joining in the fun. Two of the guys figured since this was a celebratory moment, they needed to fill a bucket full of water and drench Adisa on his success….SWOOSH over the top of Adisa’s head.
The jubilant gang were running, slipping, falling and laughing so uncontrollably until one of them said, “Aw man, I peed on myself,” putting an expeditious halt to the slipping and sliding in the water. Adisa told the guys, “I have to get ready to go see my parents, they are staying at Granny’s and thanks for the shower.” Hey man wait up., Adisa’s closest friend Fred, began telling him how Granny, heard of one of our sister-students having sickle-cell anemia and was in a Greenville Hospital not expected to live.
The next day Granny caught a bus to the hospital, but not before buying flowers and a card. Granny stayed with her all day praying and singing hymns. The other guys that were standing around and listening to the story said yea, “Granny is a God Send.” Sammy shouts, “Jinx you owe me a coke.” Man shut-up, how is the sista doing?” She is doing fine and testifies every Sunday of an Angel named Granny.
John and Ella found their way back to Granny’s house and amazingly the outside of her home looked identical to her restaurant; the same white picket L-shaped fence was situated around the well-manicured lawn with ornamental ducks standing stair-stepped by an empty cement pond. What stood real before was this big weeping willow tree with a bench which sat beneath it and a honey-suckle tree, sitting in the middle of the yard. Its branches were spread wide and spaced far enough apart for children to climb.
The colorful flower boxes were filled with pretty varieties of orange, pink, purple and yellow flowers that you could smell as soon as your foot hit the top step of Granny’s porch. “John this is just like a grandmother’s house you can feel the love even before you get inside.” John holding Ella’s hand, “Yes, I felt it right off. I’m glad we decided to stay.
John reached down to ring the doorbell and Ella sat down on the white wooden porch swing. a couple of minutes past and the door opened,. “Well, come on in.” Standing at Granny’s side was a small black terrier with a graying beard. The little dog forced out a raspy and barely audible bark, she looked to be as old as Granny. “Don’t mind her she won’t bite.” John thought, she probably doesn’t have any teeth to bite with, chuckling to himself.
The smell of the house was warm and filled with aromas of freshly baked bread and cinnamon apple jelly. The floors were done in cherry wood, which shined so bright you could see your reflection. To the right of the doorway sat an overstuffed couch, covered by a knitted caftan lying horizontally across the back, a cherry wood coffee table exhibiting paper money and coins from other countries laid out in uniformity under the glass. Situated in the middle of the dining room was a deep rich walnut dinner table covered with a white triangular crochet laced tablecloth.
The love and care it took to keep this beautifully crafted piece of furniture in pristine condition was quite evident by the smell of lemon oil that had been rubbed into the wood keeping it shiny and looking like new. There were six high back matching chairs covered in burgundy black and silver stripped satin that graced the table.
“John, look! This is just like mother’s dining room, same chairs and everything!” John liked seeing the excitement on Ella’s face and hearing it in her voice, something he hoped to have the pleasure of experiencing, for years to come. “I hope you will be comfortable here”, says Granny. Ella answered, “I’m sure we will Granny.
I want to thank you again it means a lot to us.” She walked over to Granny put her arms around her and gave her a kiss on the cheek. Granny responded, “I’ll show you where you will be sleeping. John make yourself at home while I show your wife around because Granny doesn’t like strangers in her house, and turn on the television, I know how you men like your T.V.” Yes ma’am, John says while walking towards the television.
“Come with me Ella.” Granny goes to the hall closet where her linens and towels are kept. “Hold out your arms, Baby.” Granny takes out one set of blue sheets, two blue pillow cases – bordered in blue and white flowers – two yellow fluffy bath towels, two face clothes, and two hand towels. Each time she pulled them from the closet she’d lay them across Ella’s arms. Then Granny went to another closet where she kept her blankets and comforters.
The heaviness of the linens were starting to weigh on Ella’s arms making them tired so she pulled them close to her chest. Granny with a slight laugh, “Your arms getting tired?” Yes, a little,” Ella says. Granny bent down up to get a large white and yellow down-comforter from the closet. “Ummmm,” as Granny stood and straightened her back. “Okay that’s it. I’ll carry this one. We are going up these stairs, she says to Ella. Grunting at every other step walking as slow, as molasses Ella followed counting each step to her-self hoping this climb would soon end.
Four steps later, they are on the landing. Ella thinks to herself good, but Granny did not stop she kept going up more steps all the way to the top floor. Ella is breathing heavy, with sweat rolling down the sides of her face. “You alright Ella?” “Yes Ma’am just a little hot. Granny assures her, “We almost there child just hold on.”
They stop at a door, and Granny takes some keys from her apron pocket searches for the right one, found it and opens the door. Ella rushes past Granny throwing the linens onto the bed. Ella looks frantically for the bathroom – she sees it, runs in and shuts the door.
Granny walks over to the bed setting the linens down on the end table and begins making the bed. From the bathroom she could hear Ella vomiting and crying, “Jesus! Oh my God stop this! Oh…mm…mm” Granny stops making the bed and opens the bathroom door.
Ella was sitting on the floor her blouse pulled up with her back against the bathtub to feel the coolness on her skin. Sweat is pouring off Ella as if she just finished showering. “My Lord, are you alright?” Granny gets one of the wash cloths and letting the cold water run over it, squeezes out the excess water wiping Ella’s face and around her neck. Ella takes the wash cloth and holds it against her face. “Baby, you’re on fire!
Let me call your husband!” “No, no Granny! I’ll be fine, I just need a minute to get myself together. It’s just a hot day today and I’m a little overheated.” Granny with a look of concern says, “Child, I’ll say you did! You aren’t pregnant are ya?” Oh Granny, how I wish that was the case, but no, I am not pregnant,” Ella replies.
Just then the doorbell rang and Sadie made it known with her raspy bark, “Granny?!” “John, answer it baby… it’s okay.” Granny returns to attending to Ella finding her standing over the sink splashing cold water onto her face. “Are you feeling any better?” “Yes, a little better, Ella says softly, let’s finish making the bed.” Granny feeling something is very wrong says, “No you sit and I’ll make the bed.”
John yells, “Ella! Disa is here! “Hey mom,” as Adisa looked around to see is mother, “Hi, sweetheart I’ll be down in a minute. I’m helping Granny make the bed.” When Ella turns back facing Granny, tears are showering her face. “Now, now why are you crying, what is going on with you?” Granny says while coming closer to Ella.
Ella is wrapping her arms around herself, as if cradling a baby rocking to and fro and says with tears in her eyes, “Granny, I’m dying! I’m dying and I don’t know how to tell my son! He is graduating in May and I might not be here to see it!” Falling to her knees she cries, “God! Lord! Jesus, help me! Granny bends down placing her hands over Ella’s and begins to sing, “What a Friend We Have in Jesus”.
Ella felt the presence of God that day, in this old sweet-faced lady named Granny who opened up her house and heart to her and her family. Granny did all this without ever having met them before they walked into her restaurant. Ella, “the road you are about to travel is not a destination, but a journey.
One that will make all unknowns known, strangers will be your neighbors and enemies will become your friends. Lost loved ones you will see again hold onto God’s unchanging hand he will strengthen you. “Ella, sit with me.” Now take a deep breath, let go of the doubt and give God your reins of fear.” As Granny spoke in a soft angelic tone, a feeling of peace fell over Ella, a peace that since hearing of her diagnosis she had not recently felt.
She knew from that moment what she and John had to do. Ella need not doubt the words that were to come from their mouth. They were only to speak them, God’s grace would translate those words so they would land softly on Adisa’s heart. Ella wiped her face, “I’m ready now” giving Granny a hug. Granny hugs her back and pushes Ella towards the door. “You go on downstairs and I’ll finish up here. Your family is waiting for you.” Ella smiled and went downstairs.
“Hey mom!”, “Adisa waves at Ella, “Come watch this fight! It’s Archie Moore and he is beating this guy bad.” Oh! Screams Adisa as Archie Moore lands a punch to his opponent’s jaw. John looks at Ella and he can tell she’s been crying. Ella walks over to where John is and sits next to him. He moves his arm placing it around her neck, pulling her close he whispered, “Are you ok?” Ella gives John a comforting smile, nodding her head yes.
“Adisa, turn off the television son” Adisa protest, “Now dad, when Archie Moore is about to knock this dude clean out?” “Yes son, please. “Alright dad.” Adisa reaches over and switches off the TV. Ella looks at John then at Adisa, “Disa, we came here today because we have something we must tell you.
We wanted to tell you sooner, but we did not want anything to interfere with your schoolwork. We know you have one more major test you are taking next week. We need to know Disa, that you will do as you have always done. Not allowing anything to get in the way of your passing your exams. “Mom, dad what’s wrong; tell me?” Promise me Disa, Ella reaches out while he moves closer to her replying, “I promise” now tell me what’s wrong!
“Three months ago I went to the doctor; I had not been feeling well. The doctor ran some test and found I had a lump in my breast. At the time they felt it would be removed with surgery; and they would keep a close watch on me hoping no more tumors would develop. When they did the surgery they found the tumor was cancerous.” “Oh mom, no, Adisa cries”.
“Son, they found more cancer in my other breast and said it is inoperable.” Tears weld up in her eyes then streamed down her cheeks, John wrapped his arms around his wife to comfort her. Adisa slides out of the chair and onto his knees, leaning closer to his parents wrapping his arms around both of them and his tears joined with his parents.
Now it was John’s turn to deliver the worst news, wiping his brow he was finding it difficult to form the words that may devastate his son forever. “Adisa, son your mother, your…” Ella took Adisa’s and John’s hand, “baby the doctors are saying I have less than three months to live.” Tears are flowing down Adisa’s face, “but moms, there are other doctors!
Did you get a second opinion; dad did you?” John grabs hold of his son wanting to absorb the hurt and pain he is suffering. Adisa bellows in distress that he can no longer contain. “Mom you can’t die, you can’t! I will find a doctor, I won’t let you die!”
Through her tears Ella in a calm and soft voice says, “Adisa, I know this is hard for you, look at me. I need you to be strong for me and your father. Honey, I am not dying, I am evolving into a living spirit, one that will never leave your side. I will always be here for you and your father. You won’t be able to see me, but when you close your eyes; you will know I am there. Lean on God to strengthen you and believe the words written in the Bible they will comfort you.”
Ella, lightly strokes Adisa’s black wavy hair speaking softly, “I love you my man-child.” Adisa turns from his father and hugs his mother which seemed an eternity. Ella looks at her husband and taking his hand into hers and the three of them stood embraced in undying love.
Later that night Granny came downstairs to see John, Ella and Adisa all asleep in her living room; she went to the hall closet and brought out three summer comforters. Granny removed Ella’s and Adisa’s shoes and placed the comforters over them, as if they were her children. Granny smiled as she went to remove John’s shoes and found that he had already taken his off.
“He knows how to make himself at home,” she laid the comforter over John as not to disturb him. Granny stood there looking at each of them and said a silent prayer, “let God’s will be done.” She turned off the light returning back upstairs humming ‘Amazing Grace’.
Just as the sun rises; summoning a new day, it plays peek-a-boo, with the clouds moving across an orange tinted sky, dancing against a baby-blue background. Cock-a-doodle-doo, the head rooster in the yard, sings just outside the backdoor of Granny’s kitchen, telling everyone it is time to wake-up and get out of bed.
Adisa feels a light nudge on his shoulder and a whisper telling him to quietly get up and come into the kitchen. While wiping the sleep from his eyes, Adisa stumbles, groggily into the kitchen, where his nose is instantly consumed by the warm smell of hot biscuits and gravy, fried bacon, hash browns and fresh brewed coffee.
Granny is sitting on a tall backless stool, close to the stove beating eggs and stopping only long enough to crack open a few more then start beating again. Adisa sat at the breakfast table, with his chin resting in his hands mesmerized, while listening to the rhythmic sound of Granny whipping the eggs, reminiscent of a melodic tribal African beat that reached into the depths of his soul.
In the chair next to him was draped a face, hand and bath towel. “Adisa Granny instructed. “Take those towels to the shower at the end of the hallway to your right, clean up and then come and have some breakfast.” Yes ma’am, answers Adisa, as he picked up the towels and walked to the end of the hallway and into the shower. In the background he could hear Granny humming, ‘His Eye is on the Sparrow’, one of his mother’s favorite hymns.
Adisa remembers when he was a little boy, his mother sang in the First Southern Baptist Church choir, when she was finished, singing and getting the Holy Ghost. The church members would be on their feet clapping, dancing and shouting to the roof top. Adisa thought his mother was the closest thing to an angel and how everybody loves his mom and her peach cobbler, then thinking how everyone was going to miss her.
While preparing to take his shower he started talking to himself, ‘God is going to heal her. She is going to be just fine. God would not take someone from this life that has been so good and loving to everyone.”Adisa’s tears mixed with the warm falling over his body.
The thought of him losing his mother became too much and his legs gave way. On his knees and crying he called on the Lord, ‘Please don’t take my mother from dad and me. We need her, my dad will not be able to make it without her. Please lord, please heal her.” After a few minutes of letting the warm beads of water bounce on and off his back, Adisa gained his composure; he turned off the shower, dried off and got dressed.
Back in the kitchen Granny had set the table; a tall glass of orange juice sat next to his plate of crispy fried bacon, biscuits and gravy, and on a separate smaller plate golden brown perfectly cooked hash brown potatoes and a bowl of fresh peaches sprinkled with maple syrup and cinnamon. Adisa reached for the glass of orange juice. “I know your mother taught you better than that, put that glass down until we have given thanks to thCreator,” Granny admonishing Adisa, “Then you can drink the whole carton.
Now sit down.” Adisa sits, scooting his chair closer to the table. Granny gathers the rest of the eggs from the skillet and places them on the table as she takes her sit. She stretched out her hands toward Adisa. “You need something, Granny?” She responds, “Your hand boy.” Adisa takes hold of Granny’s hands and bows his head.
“Lord, we ask as humbly, as we know how to bless this food you have so graciously supplied from your bounty, and that it is nourishing to the mind, body and soul. We also ask Father God that your healing powers will touch Adisa’s mother – Ella and remove that awful sickness from her body.
Give Adisa the faith to trust in you; to know that he has the strength to stay focused and pass his final exam coming up next week. We give you the glory Lord for you are in control. There is not any weapon formed that can prevail against us. We know that it is your will Father God, so let your will be done. In all these things we ask in the name of your precious son, “Amen.” Amen, Adisa solemnly echoed.
Granny and Adisa sat quietly while eating breakfast. Granny was struggling to find something to talk about other than his mother, but there was no getting around it. “Adisa, are you ready?” “Ma’am” “Are you ready to take your test, with so much going on with your Momma. I want to know are you ready?”
Adisa’s eyes began to water, “I promised mom that I would pass the exam and I will,” catching a tear as it rolled down his face and wiping it away as it landed on the bottom of his chin. “I want her to see me graduate and know that dad and I will be okay.”
Granny reached her hand over and placed it over Adisas, “God is showering your family right this minute with blessings of tender mercy and grace. You and your father will be fine, you listen to Granny I, know the Lord and I’m sure of what I am saying. You finish your breakfast and get over to that college and pass that test.”
“Granny, thank you for opening your heart and home to my family and me, I will never forget your loving kindness.” Adisa reaches out to hold Granny’s hand. “Why you are welcome, Adisa. I have always liked you and knew you came from a good home, with loving parents by the way you conducted yourself, when you came into Granny’s restaurant.
Now go on before you are late. I’ll tell your folks you went back to school.” ‘Thank you, Granny,” says Adisa, as he walked pass the living room where his parents were still sleeping. He gave both of them a kiss on the cheek and left for school.