The wind whistles about the tops of the great pine trees around us and swishes about the bells of my grandmother's wind chimes so that a song seems to always be playing. The air smells of the piney woods and of coffee and of rain somewhere down the road. He and I are nestled together on the front porch swing and he rocks me, tucked in against his side as he pushes us off the ground to go higher and higher. That man always was the best swing pusher in the country...if not the world. And he would sing to me, most of the time little ditties from when he was a kid, or a hymn, one of his favorites on the porch swing was 'Swing Low Sweet Chariot", but he would change the word 'chariot' to my name. He did that with all of his grandbabies.
It was like that until the day that he died. Every time I would come to visit, whether I was a baby or in my early twenties, whether he was sound of mind or lost in his own memories, he always asked me to go sit on that swing while he drank his coffee. He'd start by remarking about the weather, about the countryside, how East Texas is truly 'God's Country' and how I will move there some day along with my dad and the whole family. Then he'd sing for a bit. Then, when I was old enough to understand, he started crafting in words this wonderful life that he knew God had planned for me.
I could go to college at the local university and live with him and my grandma. I could drive him around town, and we could go on vacations together all across the states. I'd have a lovely job, a wonderful husband, and children of my own someday. And he would always leave himself out of that part of my story, because he knew somehow that he wouldn't be there, and he was at peace with it.
He never told me what to do or who to be. He always listened to what it was I said I wanted each and every time, and when I finally confessed that I wanted to be a music teacher he supported me more than anyone else in my life ever thought to, immediately thinking of the 'millions' of children's lives I could change for the better, the grand studio I could have at the local university, the summer programs.
The one thing that absolutely never changed, even when he had forgotten my name or exactly how I was related to him, is that he loved me, and he was proud of me.
The swing is still there. And we all go there when we miss him. On 'rainy days' when I'm feeling low, I tuck myself up in that memory and hold on tight. I'd live there if I could, but I know what he would say....I got to go live my marvelous life that God has planned for me. I can tell him all about it on some porch swing up in heaven, where he sits right now with his coffee waiting for my grandma, and probably swinging the little boy who's grave lays right beside his in the plot he bought all those years ago.