Granny had family supper in her dining room last week. It was her first family supper in two decades.
She has a small family. Her nine-year-old granddaughter sat beside her. Her forty-three-year-old son sat across.
Hers is an old trailer. A double-wide. Linoleum floors, shallow ceilings. She bought it with her husband before he died. She’s been poor her whole life.
This is the nicest home she’s ever had.
So supper. Her son wore a necktie and dress shirt. The little girl: long braids and a dress.
Granny said a prayer. She thanked God for second chances, little girls, and sons.
“My son’s an addict,” Granny tells me. “In and out of rehab. Learned a long time ago, an addict only thinks about themselves, it’s how they are.”
Her son’s little girl was born in a bad neighborhood—the kind where questionable transactions take place on the front porches.
The day his girlfriend announced she was pregnant, Granny redecorated the spare bedroom in her own home. She fixed the room just like on HGTV. Pink drapes, frilly pillows.
One Sunday, when the baby was only a few months old, Granny parked herself on her son’s doorstep. The intoxicated girlfriend told her to get lost.
Granny would not.
“I’s gonna take my grandbaby to church,” she told me. “Wasn’t leaving without her.”
The girlfriend lost it. She cussed, threw things.
Granny demanded the baby. Girlfriend refused. Granny called the law; a mess followed.
Police handcuffed her son and his girlfriend. He screamed at his mother. He told her he hated her.
Granny said, “’Course it hurt, but I just thought: ‘Fine, he’s just gonna have to hate me. ‘Cause I’m worried about this little girl.’”
Her son spent time in jail, and rehab. His girlfriend, too.
But that was a long time ago. Not worth remembering.
Today, Granny thinks about other things. Namely: supper.
She’s been planning her son’s visit for months. She cried when she held him. He cradled his child for the first time in years. He kissed his mama.
They ate fried chicken and potatoes, and afterward they did dishes. He went to Wednesday night church. He sat in a pew. He sang. It meant a lot to Granny.
He has a job laying electrical wire. He’s doing okay for himself. He’s leaving town in a few days, and won’t be back for months.
“But he’s clean,” Granny said. “And it ain’t no accident. He’s done a lotta work, and I done a lotta praying.”
There’s no doubt.
Every Saturday, Granny and the girl set up a tent at the farmer’s market. They sit in folding chairs, selling homemade cookies.
The girl wears oversized sunglasses and eats Skittles. They meet interesting people. Sometimes, they even meet redheaded writers who ask too many personal questions.
“The paperwork went through last week,” said Granny. “My granddaughter is officially my daughter as of last Monday.”
Granny rubs the girl’s head.
“I’d die for this child, make sure you put that in your story.”
I’ll be certain to do that.