I’m Crystal and this is my story of what Psalm Twenty-Three means to me.
I came into the house after school that afternoon and my mother was home. I was surprised. She usually works until 5:00. Since I am thirteen, I have my own house key. I come in, do my homework and fix supper. I like to cook like my grandmamma. That day would be different. My mother had been crying. I could tell because her nose and eyes were red.
“Hi, Mom! What’s the matter?” My heart was pounding hard. I was afraid it had something to do with my father again, but that wasn’t it.
“Come here and sit down, Honey.” She motioned for me to sit down beside her on the sofa.
Just then Bubba, my little brother, came into the room pushing his big black truck. So! He was home from day care also. He stopped and sat down hard staring at Mom for a minute, and then he turned his truck over. He began idly spinning the fat tires. It seemed like time stopped, too. When it started again, it was in extra-slow motion.
“Crystal, it’s your granddaddy. He passed away this morning. I got a call from Grandmamma right after you left for school. I called in to work and got the rest of the week off.”
“He died!” I said, and then I wished I hadn’t. I was shocked! We had just been there on the farm for two weeks before school started. I remembered that he was more tired than usual, but I didn’t know he was that bad off. I didn’t want to believe it.
“Yes, he had a heart attack.” Mom broke down and cried again.
We live in Atlanta, Georgia in a townhouse. My grandparents live about three hours away in Alabama, way out in the country on a big old plantation. They have a beautiful plantation house where my mother grew up. I love the place.
I have spent many happy days with them. My granddaddy would let me run all over his huge fields and through the woods with his pointers. I just loved to run free and so do the hounds! Those dogs get to run free every day! Sometimes Granddaddy would let me fish with him down at his big pond.
Other times I would help Grandmamma can some tomatoes from her garden or bake some cookies or make applesauce. What was Grandmamma going to do without Granddaddy to cook for? She will miss him so much!
Mom was all packed up when I got in from school that sad day, and we made our way to the farm. The next few days were like a sad dream. I sang Granddaddy’s favorite hymn at the funeral, “In the Sweet By and By.” Hmm, I sure hoped I could go fishing with him in Heaven someday, but more than anything I just wished he were still alive.
All too soon, it was our last day there. Right after breakfast, I got permission to take the pointers on a run. Before long I found myself down at the big pong. I walked all around that pond while the dogs chased rabbits and sniffed all around it. They were Granddaddy’s buddies and they were mine, too. Finally, I sat on the bank where Granddaddy used to fish. He seemed so close to me then. Jack, the oldest hound came and sat next to me. He is brown and white with lots of brown spots. I guess they call that red-brown color “liver.” His eyes are gold and hold a sparkle. He looks up at you with a lot of love. I think he is beautiful. I hugged him around the neck and started to cry. He licked my tears and whined a little. He understood. He missed Granddaddy, too.
After a while as I sat there; I was sad, but glad. The water across the pond swirled and rippled with the breeze blowing on it. The cattail reeds and wild grasses rustled out a quiet song. Nearby, a redwing blackbird sang his beautiful little tune. I sat calmly and took a deep breath. I wanted to drink in the scene of this special spot. I was sad because Granddaddy had died, but I was glad because I had so many great memories to keep him near.
Grandmamma had said something else that was really good. She hugged me last night and said, “We will miss him, but we will be with him again! We will!” The way she smiled and her sad eyes twinkled, I knew she believed what she said. I stood up again on the bank and patted Jack on the head. I took another deep breath and felt that everything would be OK.
Just then, I heard my mother calling me. It was time to take the ride back home. I didn’t want to go, but I knew I had to go.
My grandmamma hugged and kissed us good-bye. She said to Mom, “Now don’t you worry about me none. I got Buzz to look out after me.” Buzz was my uncle and he and Aunt Maybelle lived with my little baby cousins, Ella Mae and June Bug in a double-wide mobile home on my grandparent’s property not far from the big house.
As we drove away, I took one long look at the big plantation house, the rust-red stables, the barn, the fields and the woods beyond the big pond. I was glad I had taken that walk with the pointers. I felt much better about Granddaddy now. I looked back to the big house and waved to Grandmamma who was standing on the steps of the big porch waving with all the hounds around her.
Scripture quotations taken from the Amplified® Bible, Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. (www.Lockman.org)