The Spoken Word: Words of Life

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Chapter 2: The Visit

Saturday May 8, 2010

The buzzing sound from Jeremiah’s bedside alarm clock filled his spacious bedroom, waking him up from a good sleep. It was eight in the morning, which actually wasn’t too early of a start for Jeremiah, since he was use to getting up for work each morning.

So he pulled back the covers and placed his feet on the ground to begin his day. It was going to be a busy one that included visiting Granny Emma, buying some clothes, talking with Michelle, and of course, writing a little poetry. But first, devotion was on the agenda. He opened his Bible to the book of Psalms, chapter one, read the scripture and contemplated on what it was speaking to him:

1How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,
Nor stand in the path of sinners,
Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!
2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
3 He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water,
Which yields its fruit in its season
And its leaf does not wither;
And in whatever he does, he prospers.

4 The wicked are not so,
But they are like chaff which the wind drives away.
5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
Nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.

6 For the Lord [e]knows the way of the righteous,
But the way of the wicked will perish.

Psalms was Jeremiah’s favorite book in the Bible, because of the way it reminded him of poetry. The words, the structure. It all reminded him of the very craft he had perfected.

A few minutes of prayer soon followed, asking God to direct his path, the same he had prayed each waking day.

Jeremiah then walked into the kitchen and cracked open the refrigerator door to take out the carton of eggs, the pack of bacon, and a bottle of orange juice. He proceeded to crack a couple of eggs into a bowl to scramble them and threw two pieces of bacon into the black skillet sitting on top of the stove. He seasoned the eggs and threw them into the unoccupied skillet placed on the next eye. He slid two pieces of wheat bread in the toaster and awaited the finished product.

The aroma in the kitchen was music to Jeremiah’s nostrils! The eggs were like the melody accompanied by the notes of the sizzling bacon. When everything had finished cooking and the savory song was complete, Jeremiah had devoured every morsel, washing it down with a glass of ice cold orange juice while praising to the latest gospel tunes.

After eating breakfast, Jeremiah turned down the volume on his Bose stereo and picked up his house phone. He wanted to talk to Mrs. Emma to give her heads up about his visit to her house later on that day. Jeremiah dialed Mrs. Emma’s number, the same number she had for the past thirty-eight years, which was how long she had lived at the exact address of 743 Hardin Lane.

A sweet sounding elderly voice answered the other end. “Hello?”

“Hey Granny! How are you?” inquired Jeremiah. He was always excited about talking to his grandmother. The very grandmother who had raised him up to be the man he is. Never skipping a beat, she always had him sitting in church and she made sure he had kept his nose in his books. Hearing Mrs. Emma’s voice one more time gave Jeremiah the assurance his grandmother would be there for him another day.

“Hey baby! I’m good.” Mrs. Emma had always called Jeremiah “baby” and rarely called him by his given name. “A little tired, but God is still blessing me! He let me see today, a day not promised to no man. So who am I to fuss, right? How is my baby doing this fine morning?”

Mrs. Emma sounded like a cd on repeat, always saying the same thing seemingly everyday.

“You’re right Granny. No room for fussing!” Jeremiah agreed. “God has taken such good care of us and thank Him for a brand new mercy. But I’m wonderful! Just getting my day started.”

“Amen! So what are you doing today?”

“Well, I just finished eating a delicious breakfast and now I’m about to get ready so I can hit the road to come see you, Granny!”

“I would surely love that! I know you stay busy, but I only get to see you once a week. But come on over! I’ll be here. Oh, and I have a pecan pie fresh out of the oven waiting for you. Now, I know you can’t resist that!

Mrs. Emma’s pies were the best on this side of the country. Whether it was apple, sweet potato, or chess, she could have opened up her own bakery. But she never wanted profit, just wanted to give them out of love. A retired school teacher, Mrs. Emma constantly baked pies for other teachers and her students on occasion. It was something about her pecan pies, however, that people made a big fuss over. To this day, even Jeremiah still doesn’t know the secret to her delectable pastries.

“Oh Granny, you got my mouth watering now!” exclaimed Jeremiah, daydreaming about a slice of pecan pie. “Can’t wait to get a slice. By the way, do you need anything from the store?”

“No baby, I’m fine. I don’t need anything. Just will be happy to see my grandson!”

“Ok, Granny. Well I will see you in a couple of hours. I’m going to finish getting ready. I love you.”

“Love you too, baby. See you in a bit.”

“See you, Granny.”

At that moment, Jeremiah made his way to the shower to clean up and done the normal routine of deodorant, grooming and cologne. He gathered his freshly pressed clothes to slip on his body, placed his shades on his face, and headed out the door, which he had locked and set the alarm.

He had joy written all over his face because of his visit to Mrs. Emma’s house. It was though he was a child all over again; going to see his grandmother, eating homemade chocolate chip cookies, drinking freshly squeezed lemonade and sitting on the front porch letting the mild wind touch his face. Child or grown man, Jeremiah loved his Granny all the same and had pleasure in visiting her when he had the chance.

Mrs. Emma’s House

They say you can learn a lot by sitting at the feet of older generations. Wisdom flows from the experiences of the ones who fought through segregation, civil rights movements, and the deepest form of racism America has ever seen. It is something that can’t be taught, but it is gained through life’s trials.

Jeremiah immensely enjoyed the words of wisdom that was poured into him every time he was in the company of Mrs. Emma. She told historical stories of the very things that were unknown to Jeremiah’s generation, such as the aforementioned bouts with the separation of blacks and whites. He was anxious to see what she wanted to share with him this time around. Perhaps it was another story of injustice or maybe memories of walking many miles to school. Or it could even be about her living in days of presidents that half the kids today couldn’t even name. Whatever it was, it was sure to be a fantastic time, as always.

Jeremiah walked up to Mrs. Emma’s house that he may enter in. It was the same ranch style, half brick, half siding house that had been inhabited by Mrs. Emma for those thirty-eight years. She had renovations done to it in order to keep it up to date, but she never wanted to sell it. She loved the area she was in and didn’t want to move. The home was snuggled in a quaint and quiet neighborhood located on the eastside of Nashville. It was about twenty-five minutes from where Jeremiah had lived.

The beautiful oak door at the front of the house was hidden by a black screen door. Mrs. Emma usually left the oak door open in the warmer months to experience God’s natural air and save on the cost of cooling her home. Jeremiah once pleaded with his grandmother to keep the doors locked at all times. But Mrs. Emma insisted on doing the opposite, because of her claim to not be scared of anything happening. She said the Lord was with her at all times! Jeremiah couldn’t argue with that fact, but still felt that Mrs. Emma needed to be cautious about protecting herself and her property. Mrs. Emma’s attitude was a far cry from the attitude of most elderly residents living in Nashville. They would shiver and panic just at the sight of anyone who looked suspicious. Jeremiah thought a little common sense should have been mixed in with his grandmother’s reliance on God. Yet, he allowed Mrs. Emma to have her way.

The screen door screeched as Jeremiah opened it to step inside. He gave an introduction to himself as he moved past the door into the den so he wouldn’t startle Mrs. Emma. “Granny it’s me!” Jeremiah walked into the smell of the pecan pie Mrs. Emma had baked earlier. His thoughts instantaneously turned to cutting a slice of that pie! But he held off so he could greet his grandmother.

“I’m in the living room, baby,” said Mrs. Emma. There she sat in her cherry wood rocker with two large knitting needles, one in each hand. She was crocheting a blue baby blanket for the newest addition to the neighborhood, a baby boy named Caleb. “There’s my handsome grandson!”

“Hey Granny!” spoke Jeremiah as he leaned over to kiss his grandmother. “What you doing?”

“I’m making a blanket for Toya’s baby boy. Just about finished.”

“Toya Moore?” asked Jeremiah as he made his way into the kitchen to cut a slice of pie. “The one down the street? I didn’t even know she was expecting.”

“Yes baby, that’s her. She actually had him last month. His name is Caleb.”

“Who’s the father?” asked Jeremiah as he sat on the couch perpendicular to the rocking chair. He began to devour the scrumptious pecan pie slice.

“Terrick Farley,” answered Mrs. Emma. “I don’t exactly approve of him. I think he’s into some bad stuff. Just gives me a weird feeling. But all I can do is pray for Toya and Caleb. And maybe Terrick will turn around and do right by his son.”

“I pray he does. It’s about time more of these young fathers step up and take responsibility. Granny, rest assure, I’m going to do right by my child when God blesses me with them,” Jeremiah said with conviction.

“I know you will. Your parents taught you about responsibility at a young age and I continued to teach you when your parents had died.”

“Yes ma’am, you did. You taught me a lot. Not just about responsibility, but about being a good, Christian man period. I’m so grateful for you Granny! I couldn’t have asked for anyone better to look after me!”

“Aww, baby! You gonna make an old, ugly woman cry! But I can say that you have grown up to be a fine and wonderful young man. Even the bridge club has noticed how good looking you have become! You have made me proud on so many occasions and I thank God for the man you are today. Now if we can get a young lady to recognize that and get you married!”

“Oh Granny! Not yet. I’m definitely waiting on God for that. Right now, I’m focused on my job, my poetry, and my ministry with the youth at church.”

“That’s good and everything. But you can at least have one date. You know, live a little! Don’t let life pass you by. What about that sweet girl, Michelle?”

Jeremiah laughed. “You sound like Darius, Granny. Michelle is a dear, dear friend. Nothing more. And I want us to remain friends. She’s the sweetest woman I’ve ever met. But I can’t see us at the next level.”

“The sweetest woman, huh?” Mrs. Emma looked at Jeremiah out of the corner of her eyes with disapproval. “What about your old, tired Granny?” she asked with a sly smile.

“Ok, so Michelle is the second sweetest woman,” chuckled Jeremiah as he gave Mrs. Emma a kiss on the cheek.

“Ha ha. That’s more like it! But baby, I hear what you are saying about Michelle and you being friends and all. But remember, God works in mysterious ways!”

“You’re right, Granny. God does work in mysterious ways. But God’s favor ain’t in that!”

“Ok baby, if you say so. But watch what happens. Granny knows, Jeremiah. Granny knows!” said Mrs. Emma, not missing a beat in her rocker.

“You do have impeccable wisdom, Granny. And I…”

Mrs. Emma interrupted Jeremiah in mid-sentence. “No son. What I have is discernment by the Holy Spirit. God shows me things and He shows them to me ever so clearly. When Granny has left this earth, you’ll be saying ‘Granny told me I would marry her’.”

“Oh, Granny. Don’t you talk like that. Talking about leaving this earth.”

“Why are you afraid to hear it Jeremiah? You’re adult enough for us to talk about it and know it’s going to happen one of these days. I’m not afraid to talk about it, because death is a part of life. I have the peace of God, baby and that calms my spirits about leaving one of these days.”

“I just don’t want to think about it, Granny. You’re all I have. And when that day comes, I don’t know how I will handle it.”

“Nonsense! You have the Lord, Jeremiah. He’s who you have and He’s all you need. Allow Him to be your comfort and your guide through life. People fade away, baby, but the Lord is forever.”

“You’re right, Granny. I guess it’s just scary. I lost my parents and now you’re talking about leaving. But as you have said, I have to trust in God. After all, He did get me through my parents’ death, although it wasn’t easy. But I’m sure of the fact He will get me through again. Granny, you sure do know how to straighten me out! I love you so much!” Jeremiah told Mrs. Emma hugging her tightly.

“I love you too, baby! Now, let’s talk about something else. Hand me that picture of your grandfather,” Mrs. Emma instructed, pointing at the framed picture on the wall. It was a large, brilliantly wood framed picture of John Washington.

“Yes ma’am.” Jeremiah removes the portrait from the wall and Mrs. Emma walked toward the couch to sit beside her grandson. Jeremiah helps his grandmother prop up the somewhat heavy picture.

“Jeremiah, I want to share something with you about this man.”

“But Granny, you have shared so much about Grandpa already. Military stories, civil rights marches, meeting famous and influential people, growing up in poverty. What more could it be? I literally thought Grandpa was the black version of Superman, he has so many super hero stories!” Jeremiah carried on with a hearty laugh.

“Oh boy, hush!” Mrs. Emma responded, laughing along with Jeremiah.

“Sorry, Granny. I’ll behave,” Jeremiah said, giving a mockingly puppy dog face.

“What I wanted to share with you is our love story. It is an incredible one!”

“Why haven’t I heard it before, Granny?”

“Because it wasn’t time.” Jeremiah didn’t quite understand what that meant. “Now it is. You’re getting one step closer to that special relationship each day God allows you to see. And maybe, just maybe, this story will help you out. I’m telling you this, because John reminds me so much of you. Besides the good looks, you’re stubborn just like he was.”

“Stubborn?” asked Jeremiah, confused.

“Yes, stubborn! He didn’t listen and neither do you when it comes to this love thing!”

Jeremiah had the most puzzled look on his face. He couldn’t believe the tongue lashing he had received, albeit a loving and caring one. Him stubborn? ‘Nah, can’t be. I’m nowhere near stubborn,’ he thought to himself.

Mrs. Emma continued with her story. A moment of flashback occurred as she reminisced about her God-given husband.

“John was a senior in high school at Rosewood Academy. Me, I was just starting high school. So I wasn’t very familiar with a lot of people at all. Basically, just the ones who were in the same grade I was. I was shy and didn’t talk to many of the other kids. I always wanted them to be the conversation starters. And of course, that meant I was very afraid to talk to boys, period. I just hung my head, stared at the ground and never hardly looked up. But like any other teenage girl, I wanted a boyfriend. I knew no guy would want to date me if I couldn’t even say hi to them, though. So I tried not thinking about it and was content in knowing I would never have a boyfriend. I wanted to be ok with that.”

A slight pause allowed Jeremiah to get up from the couch and pace toward the kitchen. “Excuse me, Granny.”

“Where are you going Jeremiah? I’m not finished with the story!”

“I know, Granny. But I had to get some more of that pie! Lawd have mercy, it is good!” Jeremiah scrunched up his face as though he had smelled a baby’s dirty diaper. His facial expression told how his belly was delighted!

“Well, ok baby. But hurry back!” Mrs. Emma told Jeremiah.

A couple of minutes later, Jeremiah sat back down on the couch with another hunk of pie and a tall class of milk. “Ok, Granny, I’m ready!”

“Where was I? Oh! As I was saying, I was content. But that’s when the one and only John Washington entered the picture. Six-three. Muscular. Curly hair. Football player. My, my, my! At first glance I knew I wanted him and I was going to get him if it was the last thing I would do. I no longer wanted to be content.” Mrs. Emma said with a chuckle. “I wanted to be John’s lady!”

Jeremiah shook his head as to say ‘she is too much!’

“Well, I did!” Mrs. Emma declared in response to Jeremiah’s body language. “And I was going to get him too! Didn’t know how, didn’t know when. Just knew he was mine for the taking. Oh, John was my love and we hadn’t even spoken yet.”

Jeremiah squirmed on the couch to try to get more comfortable. He knew it was going to be a long story. He loved Mrs. Emma to death, but if he could had told her to just get to the point, he would have. But he knew he wouldn’t want to be disrespectful to his grandmother. He just wanted to know about this comparison of being stubborn. What did she mean by that? But instead of asking his grandmother to speed it up, he sat quietly and listened attentively to the rest of the story.

“Am I boring you, Jeremiah?”

“No ma’am. Just getting comfortable. I’m fine though. Interested in this story,” Jeremiah said with a half grin, knowing he was telling the half-truth.

“Good! As I was saying, John was my love. So I told my girlfriends about it. And my closest friend, Sally, went and ran her big mush mouth to John, even though I told her not to. According to Sally, he said he did like me. But with Sally, you never knew if she was lying or not. She was just a big blabber mouth! Well, apparently, she wasn’t lying. But do you know it took forever for that man to ask me out? He kept denying to the other guys he had feelings for me. He said he liked Janine better, who was Miss Everything! Now, this is according to Mary Ann, my friend who overheard every conversation around. She could even hear two flies arguing between themselves.”

Mrs. Emma looked at Jeremiah with a deep stare. The same stare parents gave children when it was time to get a “switch” off of the tree because they were in trouble. Jeremiah knew that stare all too well and wondered what he did wrong.

“What is it Granny? Did I do something?” asked Jeremiah.

“No, Jeremiah. But this is where John reminded me of you with his stubbornness.” Jeremiah thought to himself, ‘oh boy here it comes!’ “He just flat out refused to admit he liked me. Just like you won’t admit your feelings for Michelle. We would pass each other in the hall and he would barely look at me, never speaking. I don’t know why men always want to look macho in front of their boys!”

“That was messed up, Granny. If he had feelings for you, why wouldn’t he just say so? To me, it’s harder to keep your feelings bottled in. That, in turn, can cause a person to become defensive when the situation is always staring them in the face.”

“You’re so right, son. But you need to listen closely to your own words. John didn’t say anything for the same reason you won’t say anything to Michelle. You’re afraid. And fear shouldn’t be a part of you, Jeremiah.”

“I just don’t want to mess up what Michelle and I share. What we have is very special. Her friendship means a lot to me.”

“Yes, I understand. But because a relationship and potential marriage will be ordained by God, it will be special too. As a matter of fact, even more special than the friendship you have now. What you two share now will be enhanced by the entrance of the Holy Spirit. But you have to let go of yourself, step out on faith, and latch onto God to receive a clear vision and the blessing he has for you. After John snubbed me, I lost hope of us ever being an item. It wasn’t until seven years after I graduated did I see him again. That’s when he received the vision of us being together. I had already seen the picture God had painted. And maybe Michelle sees the picture of you two being together. But you’re just too stubborn to notice it.”

“Wow, seven years? It took that long Granny?”

“Yes, that long. But it was well worth the wait.” Mrs. Emma tries to secretly grab her chest, hoping to not startle Jeremiah. She would experience these sharp pains from time to time. They were due to her bout with high blood pressure. They would come and go, so she thought nothing of them.

Jeremiah caught her in the act and was awfully concerned. “Granny, are you alright?”

“Yes, son. I just need my blood pressure medicine. I’ll be fine.”

Jeremiah grabbed Mrs. Emma’s blood pressure pills from a palette of medicine on the dining room table. There was a little of everything from pain inhibitors to multivitamins. He placed two pills in her hand along with a glass filled with tap water.

As quickly as the pain had surfaced, it had left. Mrs. Emma was ready to carry on with her story, again, not thinking anything of it. But Jeremiah wouldn’t let his concern subside. “Are you sure you don’t need to go to the hospital, Granny?”

“No Jeremiah, I’m fine. Don’t worry about me! The Lord will take care of me,” Mrs. Emma reassured Jeremiah as she patted him on the hand. Jeremiah loved the fact that his grandmother had a fantastic faith, but that didn’t stop him from wanting her to take care of herself. Yet Mrs. Emma’s mind was on her story rather than her pain. “I want to finish this story, baby.”

“Ok, Granny, if you say so. But if you need to get to the hospital, please, please let me know and I’ll take you.”

“I will, son. I promise, you are as overprotective as your father was,” Mrs. Emma giggled.

“Yeah, I guess I am, huh? I just want you well, Granny.”

“And I appreciate that about you, Jeremiah. But can I please finish what I was telling you?”

“Yes, ma’am,” Jeremiah laughed.

“Thank you! So let’s see…” Mrs. Emma tried to recall where she had left off. It took her a little while, but it came to her. “Oh yeah! So I run into John at the grocery store one day. He was in town visiting his mother. We had the most wonderful conversation by the apples. Believe it or not, it was actually our very first conversation. We talked about everything you could imagine and got caught up. So much so, I had lost track of time. We talked about a slew of things, from what was going on in our lives to some of the crazy friends we had in high school. After our goodbyes, he went back to Alabama and wrote me a letter. Let me find it for you.”

Mrs. Emma mustered up enough strength in her bones to get up from the couch, walnut wood cane in hand. She went towards her bedroom to fetch the love letter she received from John nearly forty-eight years ago. It was tucked away in an old shoe box. She wanted Jeremiah to have possession of it. But why?

Meanwhile, in the living room, Jeremiah continued to look at his grandfather’s picture, reflecting on the greatness that was John Washington. Then he looked over at the opposite wall and stared at the portrait of his parents. It had shown the attractive couple, smiling in front of a woodsy backdrop, the two bound together by love. But he tried to quickly look away so his emotions would be held in check.

All the pictures he had of his parents were neatly tucked away under his bed so he wouldn’t have to be reminded so much of their deaths. By some miraculous gesture, we would just hope that it wouldn’t no longer affect him.

Even at that time of looking at Mrs. Emma’s picture of Rick and Sharon, Jeremiah tried to convince himself to get over it and move on. But was it really that easy? He found out it wasn’t. He even felt his left eye fill with a tear, which he wiped away. After all this time, it still hurt. Not as bad as the day after their death, but it still hurt. He wanted to focus on something else, so he scanned the room for another object.

At that time, Mrs. Emma trekked her way back into the living room with the aid of her cane. Her right hip was playing out on her and it gave her a bit of pain when any pressure was applied. But she was determined to get that letter, which she had in her left hand, enclosed in the original envelope. It had turned yellow, along with the notebook paper with the words of emotion written on it. She proceeded to hand it to her grandson. “Here Jeremiah, take this. You don’t have to read it now, but read it soon. Write it in your heart and take notes in your spirit. I’m giving you this, because you keep running from what you should be pursuing.”

“Michelle? Granny, please listen to…” Jeremiah stopped in mid-sentence and looked at the aged envelope. Then he looked at his grandmother with a smile. “Ok, Granny, I will.”

“Thank you, Jeremiah. That’s all I ask,” grinned Mrs. Emma.

“Well Granny, I need to run some errands. But before I go, I have something for you. Let me go to the car and get it.”

Jeremiah went outside and opened the left side, rear passenger door. He grabbed hold of a flat, gift-wrapped package and took it off the floor, from between the backseat and the back of the driver’s seat. He went back inside the house and sat on the couch with the package in hand.

“I want to give this to you Granny. You are very special to me and my life. No one could ever take your place in my heart. I wanted to show my gratitude to you and show you I know I’m blessed to have you.” He handed the package over to Mrs. Emma. She didn’t waste any time ripping open the pretty paper that enclosed the gift. The removal of the paper unveiled a framed poem Jeremiah had written specially for his grandmother. Mrs. Emma was overtaken with joy. “Here Granny, let me read it to you. It’s entitled ‘Matriarch’.”

Jeremiah carried on to read:

More than knowledge, wisdom endures.

More than love, a grandmother’s compassion, passion so blessed and so pure.

A hug, a kiss means more than any possession

Nothing can outdo a grandmother’s connection.

The way she comforts through every hurt,

Her affection to a broken heart, she inserts.

A teacher of life’s lessons, she pours into my spirit,

A moment of unhealthy living,

She knows how to cure it.

Chocolate cake and apple pies

Satisfies

The physical hunger

But she feeds, by history’s spoon, the generations younger.

Thank God for the grandmother who spent time to call on the Lord,

Forever on her knees, drawing her sword

Of the Spirit.

A grandmother’s prayer that reigns forever.

That touches like a bird’s delicate feather.

So this is to the grandmother who never let go,

Yet took the time and gave God control.

One who instructed, guided and led,

And fed me God’s daily bread.

Appreciation to you

Sincere and true

Gratitude

Is what I give to you.

The matriarch, the queen who is royal in every way,

Thank you for the love you spread every day.

This is my loving note of praise for you,

For you have made me into a man brand new.

Jeremiah signed the poem like any other poem he had written. J.S. Washington. He added the tag “Your Grandson” to it. He turned to Mrs. Emma and let out in a soft tone, “I love you Granny.”

“Oh baby, I love you too! You are so sweet and I just love, love the poem! Thank you so much for this! I think I’ll keep this in my bedroom. That way I can reflect on it every night before I go to sleep. Thank you!” Mrs. Emma and Jeremiah embraced in a heartfelt hug. Jeremiah then gave Mrs. Emma a kiss on the cheek as a sign of goodbye.

“Well Granny, I’m going to get out of here. If you need anything, you call my cell, ok? Oh, and thank you for the pie! You never fail to please my tummy!”

“Ok, Jeremiah, I will. And you are so welcome. I’ll have more waiting for you next weekend if you come see your old Granny! You be careful driving.”

“Yes ma’am. I will see you next weekend for some more pie and conversation. I’ll stop by before the poetry slam,” Jeremiah said with a beaming smile.

“See you then, baby.”

Jeremiah didn’t like saying goodbye and neither did Mrs. Emma. To them, goodbye felt like forever. Instead, saying “see you later” left the door open for one more visit.

Jeremiah unlocked his car and departed from his grandmother’s house, waving as he backed out of the driveway. On the way home, he stopped by his favorite clothing shop to get some new clothes for both work and leisure. Then he went home to concentrate on the poem he would perform at the poetry slam.

Jeremiah sat at his desk, restless due to his blank mind. He had no idea what to write. He wanted it to top anything else he had written before. But even after praying, he still didn’t have the first word on paper in his poetry notebook. Not one single word. Not even the title.

So instead of stressing over it, Jeremiah decides to call Michelle before hitting the bed. It was then nine o’clock p.m. It wasn’t a long conversation, however. It was one that consisted of Jeremiah digging for more information on Michelle’s recent success. They also talked about the upcoming poetry slam and the possible line up of poets for the event. Yet, still not a single word about a date. Friends were all they were and were all they were going to be. Well, maybe to Jeremiah. But how did Michelle feel? If there was any notion of her wanting to take it to the next level, it was well hidden. That gave Jeremiah the idea Michelle felt the same way as he did.

But if friendship was all Jeremiah was seeking, why did he have this strange feeling overcome him? The type of feeling that said “I want us to be together”, not “I want us to be friends.” He wanted to say something, but all he released was faint air from between his lips. The opportunity had slipped away. He had his chance and he blew it. But it didn’t bother him that much. In his mind, it was a sign it wasn’t meant to be anyway. Michelle said goodnight and Jeremiah said see you later. It was a forty-five minute conversation that, in a perfect world, would have ended with two friends taking a plunge into the river of love. But the phones were hung up until the next time.

At that moment, Jeremiah had lied across his bed, dressed in his blue pajama bottoms and bleached white t-shirt. He had his grandmother’s love letter in his hand and commenced to read it.

The oxidized paper read:

February 20th, 1963

Dearest Emma,

How are you doing? I hope you don’t mind me writing you this letter. And I hope you don’t mind me getting your address from a dear friend of mine. But I just had to write you so I could get some things off my chest.

First of all, Emma, I believe you are one of the most amazing women I’ve ever met in my lifetime. I was a fool for not getting to know you in high school, but I let my friends influence my thinking which wasn’t right by any means. If I had any sense back then, I would have gotten to know you for myself and would have ignored everything everybody else was saying.

The fact of the matter is that I did like you back in high school. There is no denying that. But I just wasn’t willing to risk losing my friends because I liked the girl that everybody else had seen as the outcast. Now, I’m willing to take any risk there is to be with you. I believe in second chances and I don’t want to lose you again.

After we had talked in the grocery store, I knew then that my feelings for you had not changed. Sure, I had been with other women that seemed to tickle my fancy, but none of them were quite like Emma Dorset. I had to come home and pray to God about you and me being together. God made it so clear that you were the one for me and to quit running. Face my feelings and do the right thing. That is why I’m writing you this letter.

You showed me that you are such a sweet woman and definitely a praying woman. You are beautiful from the inside out and your presence brings such warmth to even the coldest room. You have one of the most gorgeous smiles I have ever laid eyes on. And your personality is so loving and inviting. What man wouldn’t want a woman such as yourself by their side?

I gave my life to Christ eight years ago, as you know, and I’ve been loving it ever since. Now I want to give myself to you, Emma. I want to be what you need in a man and love you from sun up to sun down everyday God allows us to see.

I’ll be coming back to Nashville in a few months to live. My time in the military is just about up and I’m looking to live a new life. My only wish at this time is that this new life will include you in it. We’ve wasted time as it is and I pray to God you won’t be going steady with anybody by time I get to you, because I feel we belong together.

All I can ask is you take time to think about what I’ve said. If you’re answer is yes to being with me, then meet me at Rosewood on May 14th at noon. No need to respond to this letter. I’ll be sitting on the bench at Rosewood awaiting my love to show and say “yes”.

You take care of yourself Emma. And if I don’t see you in May, then I know what the answer is. Stay sweet, Miss Emma Dorset.

Sincerely,

John C. Washington

Needless to say, Emma met John at Rosewood Academy on May fourteenth and the rest was history. They committed to each other that day and got married one year later. There was no human love stronger than the one they shared and it trickled down to Rick and Sharon’s marriage.

Jeremiah folded the letter back to its perfect creases and stuffed it back in the envelope. He slipped it in the top drawer of the nightstand and turned off the lamp. It was getting late and he needed to be rested for church in the morning. Men’s prayer, Sunday School, and morning worship was going to occupy the first half of the day. He wanted to be fully alert for everything, especially the sermon. Pastor H.M. Graves was going to go with a sermon entitled “I Surrender to You”.

Jeremiah laid his head on the pillow, in the pitch dark bedroom and contemplated on some things. He said his nightly prayers, and then drifted off to sleep to hopefully dream a sweet dream and be awakened by God’s kiss in the morning.


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