Thursday, September 10, 2009

On The Other Side

Many of my loved ones are "on the other side".

My Grandaddy and Granny Free are there. Grandaddy I only knew through my Mama. He passed away about a month after she and Daddy got married. He was a gold-miner, and, from all accounts, the definition of a good man. He worked hard to provide for his family. Mama tells the story that, when they needed money, Grandaddy would go down to a nearby creek with his pan and work until he found gold to buy what was necessary. Granny lived with us my entire lifetime, and she was a pistol. She loved "As The World Turns" and got, well, emotionally involved. I came home from school one afternoon to find her and Aunt Ethel (her sister) crying over something. I asked them what was wrong and Granny replied, "Sara died." My friend Mike Ruffin's mama was named Sara, and she had cancer, so I assumed that was who she meant. I fell into a chair and asked what happened and when. "This afternoon," said Granny. "Dr. Steve couldn't save her." I told her I had to go see Mike and she looked at me like I had a third eye. "Fer what?" she queried. "It's his mama," I replied. "No, it ain't. It's the nurse on 'General Hospital'".

The last night I spent with Granny was in the Upson County Hospital in Thomaston. We stayed up all night singing "Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition" until the sun was coming up. Then she got quiet and asked me if I could see them. When I asked who, she told me she saw Bob (Grandaddy) on the other side of the river. She went over there a couple of days later.

My Grandpa and Grandma Berry are on the other side. Grandpa spent most of his last years in a nursing home, catatonic. Daddy would always make me go in to visit with him as he bent over Grandpa's bed, telling him he brought "that little red-headed boy" (me) to see him. Grandpa's eyes never stopped staring, and Daddy's never stopped crying. Grandpa's on the other side, able to respond now.

I spent Grandma's last Thanksgiving with her in the Gainesville Hospital. As Jennie, Mama, Susie and I prepared to leave, I thought I'd do the pastoral thing and pray with her. As I finished, Grandma began to pray, holding my hand on one side of the bed and Jennie's on the other. The prayer was so powerful it ran everyone else out of the room. I'd have gone too, but I couldn't get loose. She meant business, and if you've ever been the recipient of a prayer like that it affects you. I hope her praying bore fruit. As she finished, eyes closed, she said, "Yes, I'm coming."

I asked her where she was going. "Across that river", she replied. "There's Miles (Grandpa), and Johnny and Roscoe (my uncle and daddy). They're waiting for me." She went home that Sunday afternoon.

Not a day goes by that I don't wish I could talk to Daddy, who's been on the other side for over thirty years. During his last week in the hospital after a heart attack, he never mentioned seeing anyone on the other side. He just kept telling me how good God had been to him. He crossed over May 5, 1979.

I love my sweet wife and children, and my mama and sister. They are everything in the world to me. But sometimes I get homesick.

For the other side.

I have folks waiting for me there.


Michael Ruffin said...

I remember Granny Free and I of course remember Roscoe--both with great fondness that makes me smile.

We're getting to the age, brother, when we have more folks on the other side than we have on this one.

Still, it's good to cherish and adore the ones who are on this side with us for as long as we can.

Oh, and Mama--I remember her, too. Thanks for the story--it also made me smile.

emily said...

As for me, you made me cry. Thanks.