Little Ladies

Her infection got worse. Doctors gave her a few weeks to live, tops. Her family camped in the waiting room. They survived on vending machine food and coffee. They said their goodbyes. But the tide shifted. Doctors couldn’t explain how. She beat her sickness with flying colors. 

The Winn-Dixie is crowded. Not Black-Friday crowded, but T-minus-two-days-until-Thanksgiving crowded.

I’m buying sweet potatoes for my wife. She’s making a sweet potato pie which she’s been perfecting for eighteen Thanksgivings in a row.

I could eat my weight in sweet potato pie.

When they lay me down, they will write: “Here lies Sean. Ate too much pie. 14 ft. boat for sale.”

In line ahead of me: an elderly woman. She is little, and has curly white hair. Her cart is brimming with food. Her grandson is pushing another loaded cart. They have enough food to survive the second coming of Conway Twitty.

She notices my sweet potatoes.

“You can cut in line,” she offers. “You only have a few things, we have TWO carts.”

Granny and I make friends. I learn that she’s cooking Thanksgiving feast for forty-some people.

Her family is coming into town from all parts. Her cousins from Oregon, Illinois, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, and Texas. She’s even invited folks from church.

She’s throwing a hootenanny. A shindig. A fracas. A hoedown. A knee-slapping plate-polishing party. Whatever you want to call it, it’s serious.

“This ain’t JUST Thanksgiving,” she says. “It’s a celebration that I’m alive.”

Last year, for ten months, she had pneumonia. She got so sick she went into a rehab facility. Doctors said the infection would likely kill her.

“My preacher laid hands on me almost every day,” she says. “He’d pray the same thing…

“‘Have I not commanded thee, be strong and of good courage, and neither thou dismayed, for the Lord is with thee whithersoever thou goest.’”

She has repeated these words to herself for months, even when she was sleeping.

She had visions while in her hospital bed. She tells me she saw a white light, shaped like a body, sitting on a golden chair.

“The Lord told me: ‘Darling, I ain’t ready for you to be here in Heaven yet. You got work to do on earth.”

And I don’t know about you, but it makes me feel good to know that the Big Man uses unliterary conjunctions like “ain’t”

Granny’s grandson chimes in, “Tell him about seeing Paw-Paw, Mee-Maw. Tell it.”

So she tells it.

She saw a young man dressed in white. A man she married once, long ago. He kissed her forehead and said, “You got work to do, Cynthia.”

Her infection got worse. Doctors gave her a few weeks to live, tops. Her family camped in the waiting room. They survived on vending machine food and coffee. They said their goodbyes.

But the tide shifted. Doctors couldn’t explain how. She beat her sickness with flying colors.

“You’re looking at a miracle,” she says. “I’m ONLY here ‘cause God has work for me to do—even though I’m ready to go to Glory.”

I ask what kind of work that might be.

“Why, I’m here to tell people he loves’em.”

She hugs her grandson. She rubs his face the same way grannies have been doing since the beginning of the world. Soft and gentle.

“That’s my purpose,” she says.

You should see the way the kid is looking at her. You ought to see how she’s looking back at him. There is a lot of heart in this tiny woman.

Yes, sir.

She’s got work to do.

16 comments

  1. Regina Peavy - November 22, 2017 8:06 am

    Thank you. Beautiful to read on my Mama’s 97th birthday. Blessed to have her still. And I’m glad to hear the Big Man uses ain’t too. 😊💜

    Reply
  2. Susan Hammett Poole - November 22, 2017 9:55 am

    Oh, how I love this post. You make Granny’s story totally endearing. Wish I was one of her guests enjoying that celebration of life. What fun!

    Reply
  3. Lucretia - November 22, 2017 12:26 pm

    Beautiful, Sean. What a message for this season of giving thanks. Yes, Jesus does love us! Joy in your season of thanks, Sean, and you are always a season of thanks giving for me! Lucretia

    Reply
  4. ccgoesdutchJohn van Peelen - November 22, 2017 1:25 pm

    Another tear jerker Sean, thanks! My wife Carol (sister of Steve Cosper) has forbidden me to forward such emails to her work because she has to explain the reason of her tears to her colleagues…..Hope to see you again next month! All the best and kind regards.

    Reply
  5. Connie - November 22, 2017 1:37 pm

    Wow. You always touch me in my heart, but this? This is so much more. I will bring my mom from the nursing home to my house for Thanksgiving. She won’t know too much about it, but the rest of us will remember all the Thanksgivings past, when her kitchen overflowed with food and family was swarming. She was the flame that we were all drawn to, in good or bad times. Granny’s are definitely a gift from God, for however long He lets us have them.

    Reply
  6. Sharon - November 22, 2017 1:40 pm

    You are an excellent writer.
    Every story tells me you “see” more deeply than most and makes me want to be a better person.
    That is a real gift!

    Reply
    • Chelle Coffee - November 27, 2017 4:43 pm

      Me too, thank you!

      Reply
  7. Margaret Istre - November 22, 2017 1:52 pm

    This is your best one yet!

    Reply
  8. Laura - November 22, 2017 2:56 pm

    Loved this one, Sean, As a 47 year nurse, much of which was spent in ER and ICU, I can tell you of many times we resuscitated people and had them tell of their “near death” experiences and brief glimpses into Heaven, but brought back ’cause they had work to do here. I learned early on that I might be the instrument, using hands, drugs, defibrillators to resuscitate, but if God’s ready for them, nothing I do would matter, and if God had “work for them on Earth”, success was assured. I have seen so many miracles and am blessed for it. God is using you, Sean, and I am blessed by that as well!

    Reply
  9. Frank - November 22, 2017 3:15 pm

    Well, if we’re scoring, that’s a solid flat out 10!

    Reply
  10. Annie - November 22, 2017 3:16 pm

    Love, love, love!

    Reply
  11. Pat - November 22, 2017 3:46 pm

    As one who has had a vision, I totally believe every word this sweet lady shared with you.

    Reply
  12. Jack Darnell - November 22, 2017 4:29 pm

    Always a good visit. We old people will talk to anyone in line. I know she enjoyed the chance to talk. You have a great way of expressing a visit, sorta like being there as I read. Try to be good!

    Reply
  13. Judy - November 22, 2017 8:46 pm

    Beautiful.

    Reply
  14. unkle kenny - November 23, 2017 4:23 am

    got the sweet potatoes. I traided some honey from my hives for some fresh shelled pecans. The art of the trade is still alive and well . Now about the visitors that don’t need air anymore . I’m certain that they know more than me or you , and am glad that they’re around to look after us. They are never more than a heart beat away . Some call them guardian angels . I just called mine Granpa , and he just called me son…..Be thankful for all thangs, Thanksgiving Day should be every day… especially if sweet potatoes are involved! uk

    Reply
  15. Marty from Alabama - November 23, 2017 12:35 pm

    I miss the days of Grandmothers and Grannies.

    Reply

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