My ears awoke first, sharing with me the early spring bird songs permeating the screen in the window. Then, my nose told me that bacon and silver-dollar pancakes were already on the stove, and that the coffee finished percolating. I opened my eyes, and noticed I was alone.
I went downstairs and heard, “Good morning, Teresa Mae.” It was Nana.
“How did you sleep?” asked Poppa?
Breakfast was already on the dark wooden table in the cottage in Laurel Park in Northampton, MA. The sun shone through the windows.
We ate our breakfast while we read the Sunday paper, comics for me. Nana had her notepaper and pen and was making a grocery list for our dinner later than day.
“Should I make enchiladas?” she asked as she was already jotting down the ingredients.
“Yes, please!” I said. She made the cheesiest enchiladas with red sauce, beans and rice, and a virgin margarita for me. I drool as I type this.
We ate our breakfast and washed it down with black coffee in little cups and a small glass of Big Y orange juice, then I helped clean up the table and wash the dishes. When that was done, we got ready to go to church.
“I don’t have any nylons,” I said to Nana.
“You may have a pair of mine.” I went into her top drawer and saw about 30 pairs of nylons, all rolled up into neat little spheres. I chose a tan ball. They smelled like laundry soap.
“After church we can go to Bradlees and Caldor,” Nana said. These were departments stores that have since gone out of business. We loved looking at the shoes.
We all showered and got dressed, then made our way to St. John’s Episcopal Church in Northampton, MA near Smith College. On the way, Nana handed me some change for the collection plate, and half a piece of Trident gum. Original flavor.
St. John’s looked like a castle with various shades of brown stones crawling up the front. Its grandeur was complemented by the towering height with windows like Rapunzel would pour her hair out of. Walking in blessed your nose with the scent of antique wood and pine cleaner. Dry warmth touched my chilled skin from early April’s air.
We nodded at the minister, chose our pew, and sat quietly. Nana put pieces of ripped tissue in the church’s bibles and hymnals according to the pages shown in the front of the church on the hymn boards. Nana and Poppa were the ushers on some Sundays, so I would sit by myself and admire Nana as she walked like a lady in her high heels to the front of the church. She turned and winked at me, then took the brass plates and began passing them out to the members, beginning at the front.
I became anxious as the collection plate was being sent down my aisle, then said thank you when the person next to me handed it over. There was a quiet tink as I gently plunked Nana’s change into it. I slowly handed it to the person next to me. I was relieved when Nana and Poppa were done, and they sat next to me. She smiled.
Sundays with my Nana were peaceful. I can hear her sing a little off key but it allowed me to hear her better amongst the other members of the congregation. I still have that sense of love and belonging that I did on those Sundays. I miss it.
Roger and I used to take Tyler to church when he was small, but I haven’t been to a service like I used to experience with Nana since before Roger passed. I didn’t have intentions on going again, until Baylee asked me if we could.
So, tomorrow we’re going to church, just me and him. There’s a little white church near us that I researched. I listened to the sermons to make sure they will fit our beliefs in many ways. I am feeling many feelings because of this but am mostly looking forward to it. I hope it connects me with memories of Nana and my Sundays with her, and I am open to something else, too, whatever that is.
I’ve never been one to superglue faith to religion and I don’t think God cares where you are when you pray, but that you are kind and as good as you can be. That’s my belief anyway, but for tomorrow, I will simply open my mind, and sit near the door.