Running to the door, I flung it open. I just knew it had to be Ma standing there. Instead it was the Sheriff. Why? I thought surely Ma would be there by now.
"Could I speak to your Grandpa, young man? It seems I have a problem that has developed in town and I need him to settle something."
He could see the confusion on my face, and he said, "It ain't none a your business, kid, so go get your Grandpa!"
I think, now as I'm relating this, of a comedian (who has since appeared on TV) that was always saying, "I get no respect," cause I sure wasn't getting any from him.
I went to the bedroom door and stuck my head inside. "The Sheriff is here and wants to speak to you."
"Please sit with your Grandma, would you, Zeb? I'll go see what the Sheriff is needing."
Well, my curiosity was full to overflowing, but I dutifully sat down in the chair next to the bed and looked at my Grandma. She did look pitiful lying there, and I could see her swollen stomach. Was she expecting a baby? I had never noticed how her stomach was sticking out before when she had on that dress with an apron. With her lying in bed on her back, it was very obvious. I didn't know that people with cirrhosis developed a swollen belly quite often.
"Do you need anything, Grandma?"
"Just a sip of water, please."
I picked up the glass on the bedside table and held her head up so she could drink some of it. We didn't have any straws, so a little of it dribbled down the side of her face. I picked up a wash cloth that lay on the table near the glass and wiped the dribble off.
As she looked at me, her eyes seemed to be saying something, but she held her lips firmly shut.
"Grandma, is there something you want to tell me?"
She shook her head negatively and turned it away from me.
"Grandma, I'm sorry that Rosie did that to you. In her defense, I must say that she wanted you to know what it felt like for her when she was only five years old, scared and away from home with someone she barely knew taking care of her in the way you did. You punished her for doing something she couldn't help. I know it's not my place to ask your forgiveness for what she did to you, any more than it's my place to ask her forgiveness for what she did to you."
I thought a few more minutes and then said, "Maybe if the two of you talked together, you might forgive each other."
"What do you think about when you are lying in here, Grandma? Do you ever think about meeting Jesus after you die?"
"Get out of here! Stop your preaching to me! You little brat!" She raised up in bed with so much anger in her eyes, I was afraid she was coming out after me.
I said, "Okay, Grandma. I just want to know I'm praying for you," and walked slowly to the door, closing it after me.
Going into the living room, I saw my Ma and ran over to her, throwing my arms around her; crying and laughing all at the same time.
"Ma! Ma! When did you come in? I thought the Sheriff was here! Where did he go?"