There’s been a theme of slices others have been writing: childhood and grandparents. After sitting in church today it came to me what I wanted to write about today.
I’m sitting on the floor impatiently waiting for Mom to finish combing my hair. The second she’s done I’m up and running for my room. Looking into my closet I stand there not sure of which dress to wear. Do I wear the purple pansy dress Mam made me or do I wear the red with white polka dot one? I pick the red one and slip on my favorite black shiny shoes.
“I’ll be right back,” I yell to Mom as I run out the back door. As I leave I decide to go the back way and veer right toward the gate. Barely opening it I’m a blur as I rush up their backstairs.
“Well there you are,” I hear a voice.
Smiling big I look at the swing and see Pap sitting there. He’s already dressed for church and is wearing my favorite maroon jacket. I join him on the swing and we sit there listening to the birds chirping while waiting on Mom and Mam. We don’t say much. But then I hear a cardinal singing away and I automatically look at him. He’s already pursing his lips to whistle a reply back. I sit up a little straighter and start looking for a flash of red to come flying our way. A reply comes and it’s a little closer this time. He replies then the cardinal. I try but I still can’t whistle like him so I give up and opt to sit there and watch him.
The backdoor opens and out walks Mam in her mint green jacket with a black skirt & white shirt. Mom walks through the back gate and then we head for the garage to get into Pap’s car. On our way to downtown Pap asks where we’re going for lunch after church. I pick our usual-Dairy Queen. A few minutes later we arrive and all walk in together. Mam, Mom and I head for the sanctuary and Pap heads for the room where the Elders and Deacons go to before service. Sitting down in the pew I look around and like always I’m fascinated by the lights hanging from the ceiling. They look super fancy to my four year old mind and kind of heavy and imposing. My thoughts are broken by the opening notes that Fran is playing on the organ. I turn around quickly just in time to see Pap entering with five other men. He’s in the second row which means he will sit on our side. I start hoping he’ll serve our row and maybe this time I’ll get to have that little cracker and juice. I still don’t understand why Mam and Mom won’t let me have it. It’s a little frustrating to be honest.
Moving to Mam’s lap I make myself as tall as I can to catch a sneak peek of the bells. But this time it looks a little different. It’s the youth bell choir playing today. I lean close to Mam and whisper, “When I’m old enough I’m going to do that.” The bells finish and then the boring part begins. By the time the choir finishes their song I’m quite bored and wishing I had stayed home with Dad. Until I remember that Dad is at work. Next thing I know Mam is handing me her little wallet that’s full of photos. Flipping through those I’m easily entertained for the next ten minutes. As I’m handing it back to her I see Pap standing up. I start getting excited thinking it’s time for that little cracker and juice. But no-it’s the offering. Mom hands me $2 and I start watching very carefully. As Pap’s row starts to head our direction I see that he’s on our side. I start waving and getting excited. I place the $2 in the plate and hand it to Pap. He winks and moves onto the next pew. The organ plays and next thing I know Pap’s walking by again following those other men.
One song and a prayer later the men are all lined up again. I look at Pap and keep my eyes on him hoping that he will serve our pew again. Looking down the pew I see the tray coming with those crackers and juice. Mom takes one of each and then…
Passes it right over my head to Mam. I glare and then look at Mam but she just shakes her head and hands the tray to Pap. Again-so frustrating. Why do they get the tray and I don’t?! We bow our heads for one final prayer and then church is over. We leave and head for the car. Pap isn’t too far behind us and now I’m very excited. It’s time for DQ!
Arriving there we head in and I already know what I want. 2 hot dogs, fries and a cherry Misty Slush. I eagerly await while Mom orders and go to sit with Pap. We start talking about the cardinal we heard this morning and what needs to be done in the garden this week. The food comes and we eat. Before I know it lunch is over and we’re getting back in the car. We get home and I head back through the gate and towards home. Looking back I yell over to Pap that I’ll be over later. He just winks and tells me he’ll see me then.
I still go to this same church and even now at almost 30 I still walk into the sanctuary and stare at the lights in fascination. I’m in the bell choir and Fran is still playing the organ. Last year I was a deacon like Pap in the church and next month I make my debut as an Elder-just like him. But Pap has been gone for nearly seven years and I miss him more every single day. Oh and I eventually did learn how to whistle to talk to cardinals.