The porridge seeps from the bowl, my grandmother used to say. I wondered if the porridge was like honey, nearing the porcelain dish like a slowly oozing fountain, or watery – an avalanche bursting forward in some momentum explained by physics. When my grandmother died a little blue bird flew through the window and landed on the church pew across from me and ruffed up its wings, howling with a subtle tweet before darting off over the chest of my grandmother and landing once again, this time, on the branches beside a rosary.
In the weeks that ensued, the neighbors, family and friends talked about my grandmother’s infidelity; they talked about how she posed in her bra and panties for an artist who drew her in an image they had not seen – they always said she was lovely but deserved to be shunned by them. It was the artist, according to the legend of my grandmother, who wooed her into a relationship that was not my grandfather. They divorced early in the year 1967, and my mother was pregnant at the age of twenty. My grandmother’s husband, my mom’s step dad, was an artist whose landscapes adorned the walls; he would tell me stories about how God made the weather – his tears rained from Heaven.
It was upon his death when the neighbors talked about his exquisite art – how skillful he was in creating the masterpiece which still hangs on the wall in the local church. They said she just didn’t have talents to compare, but my grandmother taught me every stitch that strings together my own daughter’s nursery blanket. My grandfather, my mother’s father, used to take me on pony rides and told me once if you wish upon the red bird (the Cardinal) that God would be listening and my wish would come true. The town said my grandfather was too broken to ever be mended, but it was he who fixed their carburetor or an axle of some diesel engine.
On the day of my grandmother’s death, my grandfather etched her image that radiates from her headstone in the light of angels made of glass, and it was my grandfather who said she was an angel that he couldn’t love her enough – that he never showed her compassion, the way he did finally, with me. The town said his grievances were her duty to mend, but he always said that love is to be shown through compassion, understanding and even sympathy; it was my grandmother who said he was always a man of his word – he did change, as he said he would, if not for her but for another. She died before my grandmother and her love was thick – and extended to the children that were not her own; the town said how she was too much the rebel, but it was she who taught me the strength to keep going past the blood, the sweat and the tears to become more than a medical student – but a great mother to a little girl who always said her grandmother gives her the best hugs.
The town didn’t know but the porridge always seeps from the bowl as my grandmother said, and that little blue bird took with it the messages of my elders.
© Candace Meredith
Excerpt from the book “Lost Souls”
Available at Amazon.com
About the Author
Candace Meredith earned her Bachelor of Science degree in English Creative Writing from Frostburg State University in the spring of 2008. Her works of poetry, photography and fiction have appeared in literary journals Bittersweet, Backbone Mountain Review, Anthology 17, Greensilk Journal and The Broadkill Review. She currently works as a Freelance Editor for an online publishing company and has earned her Master of Science degree in Integrated Marketing and Communications (IMC) from West Virginia University.