A Quasi-Puritan, Divine Remembrance During My Ten Minute Work Break

On the early evening of Sunday February 6, I call my eighty-five year old grandfather, “Pop”, from the back room of the coffee shop on my “ten.” On the third attempt (when he finally hears the ringer), I hear a noise that I familiarly recognize to mean “Hey Rachel?” It’s five thirty, time for Pop’s nightly moon pie and milk, and naturally, his mouth is full. I’m having the same conversation with him that I have two Sunday evenings each month, letting him know I made it back to school okay after my trip home to Piedmont, for our Saturday morning biscuits. But, this Sunday, after giving me the weather for the week (both for “home” and Charleston), he brings up an extra topic: seeds. “What’re we plantin’ this spring?” Pop is set on planting early this year because he insists that waiting until after my exams were over last year is to blame for our small harvest last summer. So, aside from the fourteen hours I spend driving monthly to visit my grandfather, I am now facing the very real possibility of spending my spring break getting a head start on the garden. Sounds crazy, huh? But the thing is, I’d feel crazy not to, to pass over time spent with a person who makes me feel the way that Pop does. How could I not take the time out of my so important life to spend with a person whose life has been hard, but who takes walks every evening to watch the sunset and “admire the Lord’s goodness.” Because no matter how many times I go to church, I never feel as close to something great as I do when I’m watching Pop’s eyes when he tears up while singing Appalachian gospel. Granted he is a backwoods preacher, but he has a truly unique way of turning a vegetable garden into an altar, a country yard into a sanctuary, a dirt path into a road to heaven. Soon enough, ten minutes are over, and I’m steaming a pitcher of milk for someone’s latte. The heat from the steam and the smell of the milk take me back to the dilapidated dairy barn I grew up playing in with my cousins, David and Terry, and my Granny and Pop. Terry and Granny are both gone now, to a place that most people call heaven but that Pop calls home. I think about what home means to me, and it may seem otherworldly in light of my life at school, but not in a cosmological sense. It means days spent with my Pop, fishing with Daddy in the Saluda river, passing around a jar of moonshine with my friends, and fighting with Mama until we both give up and laugh. But, in a moment of both honesty and fear I remind myself that I, too, will gradually experience “home” as the place my Pop describes. As time goes on and my loved ones age, I hope that I will, like Pop, put my hope in the same heaven he awaits. But for now, home still means Piedmont, and time with Pop means being reminded what it’s all about: hope, love, and faith, not just in God, but also in each other.

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