D. Swanson



            While clearing out my mother’s house after her death I came across an old King James Bible.  Its rough leather cover was thin and cracked; the pages yellow with age.  On the inside of the cover was a name, printed in pencil, Mrs. Jehu Hank Worley.  This was Minnie’s bible and that inscription had to have been written before she went blind in her 60s.  This was the Bible from which I read almost every day after she came to live with us.                       

I could not have been older than ten or eleven when I began reading to Grandma.  That book had been her constant companion as she raised nine children of her own and four grandchildren.  What a blow it must have been to know she would never read from it again.  But there was a granddaughter who didn’t seem to be good for much else around the house, so she was given the task of reading to Grandma.          I remember sitting in a chair in that upstairs room as Grandma lay in her bed listening to the beloved words. 

            Grandma’s hair was still coal black with streaks of white and she brushed it 100 strokes every night before plaiting it into a thick braid.  In the mornings she would undo the braid and twist it into a bun, fastening it with big tortoise shell hairpins and combs.  Finding her way in the endless dark, she would come downstairs and sit in a rocker in the kitchen.  My mother and sisters spoke of the prophecies of Armageddon and God’s wrath Grandma would talk of constantly.  But I only remember our reading sessions.

            It was here that I fell in love with the lilting phrases of the King James Bible.  Her Bible lies open before me now:

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for thou art with me”…

“If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea: Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me”…

“Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.  In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you….”

            Grandma’s favorite books were Genesis, Psalms and Revelation.  As I read them to her I would argue about this or that statement in the Bible.  “Why did God tell the Israelites to kill all those people in the Promised Land?” was a recurring argument as I recall.  Grandma didn’t mind if I doubted or disagreed with scripture. She would patiently explain the passages and let me wonder at them.  This gave me permission to explore my faith and check it out for myself.

            Grandma was a devout Christian and as such I am sure she was a woman of prayer.  She could not have known what was going on in the life of hr granddaughter, but I’m as sure as I can be that she prayed for that little girl and asked God to direct her paths; maybe even to use her to His glory.  I didn’t think of this until I was asked to write a few words about the source of the poem, Minnie Remembers.  Her portrait, with the poem in calligraphy superimposed upon it, hung on the wall above my typewriter.  As I sat there wondering what to write, I suddenly had a memory of that little girl sitting with her grandmother, holding her Bible.  And I knew.  I knew she had prayed for me; that the doors Minnie Remembers had opened were a direct result of her petitions to God to use this headstrong, argumentative child for His service.

And now, her prayers for her grandchild are coming to fruition.  SPLINTERS OF LIGHT, a collection of poetry and prose from forty years of writing will be available sometime in April.  Watch for your opportunity to obtain a copy as soon as it if ready!




About dswan2

Poet, author, columnist, lyricist, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, wife of 50 years. Born and raised in America's Heartland
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