"The Sheriff simply saw me get off the train, and let's say he very kindly offered me a room in the town jail until I told him that I was not here to cause trouble and was expected. He told me about your grandmother. Father O'Halloran, I'm very sorry about Mother O'Halloran. I'll be in to visit with her later, but first I need to spend some time with my children."
He nodded at her and went into the bedroom.
Looking down at me, she examined my face closely. Before even taking off her coat, she began guiding me across the room. Les and Marie were stuck to her side like little barnacles, of course. Rosie kind of hung back in Grandma's rocker, as though she were not a part of the group.
"Zeb, come over here and sit by me on the sofa. I need to talk to you. First, I want to hug you again, and hold you. On second thought, the talk can wait. Let me look at you. You seem to have grown a mile and your face has taken on a different appearance. What has changed since I saw you last, besides the obvious, of course?"
"Ma, I'm a Christian! I asked Jesus into my life the very first night we were here; when Rosie and I were locked in the cellar."
She stared at me as though I had two heads. "What? What are you talking about, locked in the cellar?" It was as though she had missed the first part of my statement and jumped to the second half.
"Ma! Listen to what I'm telling you!"
Then it sank in and she began shouting, like I had never heard before. I was shocked and didn't know what to say. I didn't realize that it was her way of praising God for my Salvation. She was happy for me, then she began to hug me like I thought I was going to lose all my "stuffing", like a rag doll.
Grandda came running out of the bedroom to see what was all the commotion, and when he came over, I told her, "Grandda is a new Christian, too, Ma. He became one last night."
She hugged him, too, and he hugged her right back.
He said, "I reckon we don't get too old to change, do we?"
"No, we don't, Father Halloran, no, we don't."
We sat back down and Grandda said, "Your Grandma is asleep. I gave her some sleeping medicine with pain killers in it. She was in quite a state, Zeb. What did you say to her, anyway?"
"I just suggested she might want to think about what was going to happen when she passes on and goes to meet Jesus. I asked was she ready. I told her I thought she and Rosie should talk to one another about forgiveness."
"Oh, my, boy, you are walkin' where the angels fear to tread when you speak to Martha Jane like that. I guess you know that now."
"Yes, sir, but I don't think we ought to give up, do you?"
Kneeling down near me, he put his arm around me and said, "Zeb, I'm proud to know you. You may be little, but you're quite a man in my book."
He got up and nodding to my ma, he went outside in the cold, probably to the barn to think.
Rosie sidled over and said, "Ma, I was just fixing us some dinner. I think I'll go back in there and finish."
Ma looked up at her and simply said "Okay, I'll come in and help you. We need to talk, too. Zeb, we can talk later."
She hugged Les and Marie two or three more times and said, "Okay, children, I'm not going away from you, so please, I need to go into the kitchen with Rosie. Zeb, would you take them out for a little while and check on the chickens. Have you all gathered the eggs for today? I know that has to be done every day. I grew up on a farm, too."
We went outside, so I didn't get to hear what she and Rosie said. Maybe I could find out later. (To be continued)