As I settle into an armchair that feels more like a hug than just a piece of furniture, my favorite mug steams with productivity warm in my hands, memories flood, and her voice resounds in the peaceful corners of my mind. Anytime life gets a bit daunting, it is always her voice that tenderly brings me back to where I belong.
Lapping the miles is as attractive to me as splintered behind, but often my futile attempt to chase stillness. Stillness has eluded me, one thing I can not reach.
Mary, my grandmother, understands my restless nature; my eccentricity is safe with her. It was to her I ran when storms were approaching. Kindred souls of the wild kind, we can sit in silence, but rarely we sit.
Never did I feel an explanation of my blue in a world full of green was necessary. I ran to her for silence, to busy my idle hands to calm a cluttered mind.
We didn’t bake cookies, no doling out of compliments. Our relationship wasn’t typical, but it was the cornerstone of my youth. Our hands were always dirty, discolored from the stain we used on the newly refinished wood floors — just me and Mary sanding, staining, and being alone together. I would break the silence only for essential observations such as hammering my finger or nearly losing a limb. These days are as clear as her eyes to me.
One day tears were flowing. I didn’t understand or rightly enjoy pain in my chest. My feet keeping pace with the pounding of my heart, the tall grass bent as the mud splattered against my skin. The path to Mary traveled more quickly that day. Skipping at least the first four stairs, I reached her door. Weary of her reaction to my visible weakness, I wiped my tears with a dirtied tee shirt.
She opened the door, blue eyes piercing right through my tear-stained, mud-streaked face. Her eyes had a way of communicating when words failed. She grabbed two glasses of sweet tea and motioned me to the porch.
It seemed forever until either of us spoke, but only minutes passed. The harder I tried to hold back, the faster the salty river fell to my lap. Finally, she said, “Hush now, girl, the sun don’t shine every day.”
In the worst possible way, life had broken my heart. To a child, rejection gives birth to wounds with such veracity the scars never really heal. My favorite boots were as much a part of me as my big toe; how could I wear anything else? I wore my boots because Mary wore hers. People I had considered friends had laughed and made my boots feel tighter on my feet than I ever remembered. Unable to even utter the words, I whispered, “I don’t have any friends, mamaw.”
Her reply “right now is as good a time as any for you to learn.” My swollen eyes met hers as she continued, “You can feel it, but then you got to free it. Feelings will consume you, borrow time in the worst way. Get those tears out, scream if you must, run it out if that is what it takes and set it free.” Oddly enough, I understood. It was comforting to have my tears acknowledged and purifying to know I can free such heavy feelings. A conversation that reverberates throughout my life, so much wisdom in such a short phrase that kept me afloat through rough waters. “Hush now, girl, you can feel it, but then you got to free it.”
Cherimie Crane Weatherford is the owner/founder of SugarBelle, a long-time real estate broker and a lover of the obscurities of southern culture. To contact her with praise and adoration, email CCWIslandNews@ gmail.com. To complain, call your local representative.