It’s funny how no one talks about Amazing Grace anymore. I guess she’s been gone a long time. I guess if you didn’t forget about people then we’d still be talking about folks who lived in caves. They say you die twice, once when your heart stops and the second time when the last person mentions your name.
That happens to everyone, I guess, even William Shakespeare will be forgotten one day.
But Amazing Grace, or just Grace as she was known back in the days when they were still dropping bombs on my Grandma’s house - she was the kindest lady I ever did meet. When things got you down or didn’t make much sense, Grace would just sit you down with a glass of lemonade and straighten out all those things that were knotted or wrinkled in your head and just as quick things would make sense again.
My Granddaddy passed away when I was ten years old and one night I was sitting on the back porch looking up at the sky to see if I could see as far as heaven. I was eating a carrot because my Ma said that they were good for your eyes and if you ate enough then I reckoned I could see as far as Heaven (although I’m not too sure how far it is away). My Granddaddy always said nothing was worth travelling for, if it was more than two days drive away. So I’m guessing Heaven is only two days by car (assuming you can drive a car in the sky, that is). Anyway, in between munching my carrot and staring at the sky, Amazing Grace came and sat beside me – she had a way of making you feel better by just by being there.
“What cha doing?” She asked.
“Just staring,” I said (as if it wasn’t obvious).
“Can you see it?”
“Sure can,” I said not quite telling the truth.
“Are you trying to see someone in par-tic-cu-lar?”
“Yep, my granddaddy.”
Then Amazing Grace tells me that he was a good man. I told her that I knew that already but I was missing him.
I asked her why people died and she just looked at me in that Amazing Grace way that she had.
“You’re hurting – right?” Asked Grace.
I nodded ‘cause she was on the button with that.
She told me life was just like a big bus where we all get on at different stops and off at different stops. And in between we talk and love and argue and smile and fight and talk some more.
“Now you’re sad ‘cause your Granddaddy got off at a different stop from you?”
Again I nodded my head.
“And it hurts?”
I nodded, once more.
“And if you didn’t feel sad or even happy at some time in your life, then you’d never know how the other folks on the bus were feeling. We hurt so that we can help others – that way we know how they’re feeling and we also hurt because we have to say goodbye at times. It’s no one’s fault. It’s the rules of the bus and we have to live by them.”
She looked at me with those big Amazing Grace eyes.
“So you see, we hurt and cry and laugh and smile because it’s the only way we can know what’s going on in another’s heart. That’s what makes us all one. Some are happy on a par-tic-cu-lar day and some are sad on the same day and those who are happy have already been sad and know how it feels. So they help the sad ones to be happy again. If we didn’t feel things how could we understand anyone else?”
Then she stood.
“I’ll leave you with those thoughts, precious.”
And she gently moved on down the street.
bobby stevenson 2014
painting 'Old Woman With Toad' by Judy Somerville.