A Post of Encouragement written by my youngest daughter: Jennifer Hansley
The driveway appeared out of the foggy humidity. My eyes strained to see around the bend in the stretch of road. I could have described the minute curves to you with my eyes closed. As we approached the end of the 12 hour journey, my 9 year old self was not desperate to escape the car no matter what joys were awaiting me. No, I was a road trip warrior. I was the map holder and director. I was the queen of the back seat, and the sole survivor of sleep besides my captain of the van, father. The ten books that I had hand-picked from the library had also given me endless pathways of imagery, but what about the trip home? Not to worry, I would read them all again, but I did not want to dwell on the trip back yet. For in between those endless hours of pleasure, we would be staying in my favorite place in the whole wide world. I had ventured through many states in my lifetime so I was pretty sure I could call it that with certainty. As my exhausted father pulled to a halt at the end of the long snaking driveway, my eyes searched the back porch, for I knew no matter what time we arrived, that would be where she stood. As my brother, sister, mother, and I abandoned our faithful old Windstar, my father rambled around to achingly pull the ginormous suitcases from the trunk. Who ran towards us through the blistering heat with open arms was deemed by me to be the greatest hugger, the most attentive listener, and the yummiest cook this side of Heaven. “GRANDMA!” We all shouted with glee. The fights were forgotten and the age differences were put to the side as my siblings and I united in this, the essence of this woman. Her strong, soft embrace wrapped us in love.
After hugs, we were ushered inside, and the glorious smell met my nose. The Cajun spices in the air spoke of our favorite foods being prepared such as shrimp gumbo and a special Louisiana delicacy that was smashed inside the casing of pig intestines called Boudin. The aroma excited me while at the same time the faint scent of my grandma’s perfume came quick on the heels to calm and relax me. No matter how many times my family moved, this would forever be home. One does not need to have an address at a certain house for it to be considered home, and the existence of adoring, beloved individuals inside those four walls combined to equal a location that would always be welcoming to me. Even at this late hour, Grandma poured over us, asking if we were starved, did we need any towels for bathing, did we remember which bedroom was ours for the duration of our stay? We drank in her concern with hungry eyes and melted under her spoiling. The next 7 days would fly by as only good times can. That house rambled long and low over an area that resembled paradise. Here was the game table where the cousins and I played the eternal game of monopoly. Here were the hard, wooden barstools where I ate breakfast at the island, while reassuring chatter filled the air as Grandma cleaned up. Here was the backyard where the clementine trees resided that were for picking and squishing and sweet devouring. Why could this not continue for a lifetime or two?
The adventure back would only be sufficient enough to help dry my tears after the second hour passed. I pressed my face to my shirt and inhaled. Good, I still could detect the scent of grandma’s house. The books that were read once more allowed me to soar away just enough from my sorrow and from the terrorizing of my older siblings to enshrine my Grandma in my heart and sustain my positive outlook on life. Thank God for books …. and grandmas.