I grew up in a religous household and often my days were peppered with my mother or grandmother humming hymns while doing housework. On Sundays, more often than not, my mother would sing in the choir. I remember thinking it is the most beautiful sound in the world.
I was reminded of these times in late January of this year. January 28th. It was my Mammaw Dorothy's 87th birthday. It was a joyous if not bittersweet occasion. Mammaw had been in hospice care for about a week at that point. My mother and aunt had not left her side since she took ill a month earlier. I had just taken the bus from Wisconsin to Louisiana. I rememeber thinking, "she's looks so weak." But despite Mammaw's frail disposition, we bought a cake from the Tasty Bakery and balloons. We regailed stories about how my cousin used to stop by the Tasty Bakery on the way to school and Mammaw would give him tubes of icing. Or stories of Thanksgiving and her famous chicken and dumplings, I remember thinking it's not going to be the same this year.
After things wound down, the only people left were my mother and stepfather, my aunt, my brother and myself. We sat around visiting and around seven someone came to visit. It was the worship leader from my mom's church. He had a gift for Mammaw. A skewed cross that he carved himself. I don't remember what he called it, but the reason he skewed it was so that she can hold it no matter how bad her hands were. And at that time her hands were kind of stuck in weird position but when he put that cross in her hand she held it. And then we sang.
The song, Beulah Land, to this day brings tears to my eyes, A kind man, my mother, aunt, and my brother singing about a place worth longing for. It was a beautiful moment. It makes me think of my childhood and my Mammaw making chicken and dumplings or pumpkin pie. The last time I sat in her house and got to give her a hug and tell her I love her. All of this swirling in my mind while we sang the verses of that hymn. When my brother and I left, I knew that in the scheme of things, Mammaw had lived a good, long life. And that one day she would be singing in a choir of angels. Turns out, she's there now. Maybe one day we'll get to join her.