The old woman leaned back in the rocker; closed her eyes for awhile, smiled, and let the sunlight paint her face the color of warmth. Finally she looked up at the younger lady sitting on the porch next to her, holding a tall glass of lemonade.
“Diedre, why are you asking such a question as that?” she said. Her arthritic fingers with their stiff, swollen knuckles gripped the arms of her chair.
Diedre stayed silent. She didn’t answer she just sipped her lemonade and watched her grandmother over the rim of the glass.
Finally relenting the old woman said, “I guess the real answer is I never realized it. I just always assumed I would live forever. At least that’s what I thought until yesterday, when the doctor told me different. I never considered what might happen next.
“Do you know what a ‘Tent Meeting’ is, Diedre?”
The slightest headshake answered her question.
“It’s high theatre. That’s what it is. It’s all about salvation. When I was a girl, they would roll into town two or three times during the summer. They would set up big tents at the edge of Johnson’s field. Folks would dress up in their good clothes and go down to the ‘Revival’ to be saved, or born again. To be baptized in the Holy Spirit. There’d be preaching, there’d be praying, singing, dancing, rolling on the floor and speaking in tongues. But what I noticed was that a lot of money changed hands. I thought it was all about the money.
“I listened to what they had to say and then promptly dismissed those preachers and their messages out of hand. I lived my life for me.
“All for me.
“I have two daughters and a son. I love all three of them. They each have a different father.
“I only loved one of those three men though. Your grandfather left right after your daddy was born. He went off to war and never came back. The girls? Well the girls were what happened when I was living loose and free. I’m not even sure…
“I’m not proud of much of what I did in those days but I don’t regret any of it. I never paused to consider the consequences either.
“Anyway last night I got to thinking about those travelling preachers and their talk about salvation. I kind of found myself hoping they might have been right, hoping there might be something next. Those holy rollers said all you had to do was ‘ask for forgiveness’ but I don’t know how to do that, Diedre. Do you?”
Diedre shifted a bit in her chair and took a deep breath, “I think you just did Grandma. I think you just did.”
Nice one Swoosieque