What kids know about goin'
I was dropping off a few boxes from Maâs room. I didnât want to bother anyone, so I simply set them on a big wooden chest on their back porch.
My plan was going fine until she walked out. Katherine looked at the stuff and then looked at meâher eyes held the ocean, âThatâs grammaâs. Whyâd youâŚâ her lip rolled and quivered like a breaking wave.
I sat in my favorite chair on their porch, an old wooden rocker. She sat cross legged on the floor and stared at her feet.
âIâm just a kid. Iâm six. But I know.
Daddyâs phone rings a lot, and sometimes he says words I probâly shouldnât say. And then, when he hangs up he says, âI gotta go.â
Not like when I say, I gotta go, you knowâto the potty. He means he gots to go to work. It donât matter what time it is neither, when his phone rings, he gots to go. We could be eating or playing or watching a movie or reading a storyâit donât matterâwhen his phone rings, he's gotta go.
Last night his phone ringed. He had to goâbut I donât think it was for work.
He helps people who get in bad wrecks and he pulls the cars out of the ditch with his tow truck with pretty lights on top. He can pick up big trucks that tip over, too. He goes fishinâ sometimesânot for fish either, but for cars that fall in the lake, through the ice.
He gots to go a lotâbut itâs to help people out of bad troubleâŚso itâs ok.
It was like before, like other times. Daddy was home, daddy was tired, the phone ringed, and daddy was gone. But, his voice shaked when he said, âI gotta go, I love you,â and his eyes looked wet when he kissed mommy bye-bye. And then, he bumped the door like he couldnât find the door knob when he was trying to leave.
YepâŚsomethinâ was deff-na-lly different.â
She looked up at the things Iâd brought. âWe always go see Gramma MaryâŚbut now, how come we canât go no more?â
She looked back at the floor and picked at a lose string on her shoe.
I told her that Gramma needed her rest.
âDaddy told me Gramma was sick. I told Daddy, âyou can bring her home and I can make her all better.ââ She paused and wiped her sleeve across her nose.
I sat back and wiped my sleeve across my eyes.
âDaddy asked me if it was ok for Gramma to go to heaven and be with Jesus. He said that would make her all better and she wouldnât get sick no more.â
She looked at the things on the chest. It was high tide. The ocean spilled over.
âThen, Iâll only haveââ her words were chopped in pieces by a quivering chinââone gramma left.â
The ocean wave reached its crest and spilled over me too.
She pulled her knees up to her chest and folded her arms around them. âMaybe Grammaâs phone ringed. Maybe God calledâŚand sheâs gotta go, too.â
Katherine lifted her shoulders up and down, tilted her head and looked at me. âI told daddy it was ok if Gramma's gotta go. God's gonna bring her to His Home and make her all better, help her outta her bad troubles...so it's ok.
Anyway, we''ll still visit her 'cuz I know where she'll be, up on the hill, layin' next to Grandpa.â
Her mouth turned up. It was crooked; half sad, half glad, but it was a smile just the same.
That night in the nursing home, Mark told his mother about the conversation heâd had with his daughter. âMa, Kat said itâd be ok if you go to be with Jesus. Sheâs going to be alrightâwe all are.â
We were amazed at what happened next.
Ma settled into the most comfortable sleep. We watched her face relax and my wife said, âLook, Ma looks like sheâs getting younger.â
Her mouth turned up. It was crooked, half sad, half glad, but it was a smile just the same.