I was snuggled down into the warm blankets on my bed, sleeping, yet slowly becoming aware that the room was colder than it was the night before. That just made me want to burrow deeper into the covers.
Feeling a hand on my shoulder, I tried to shake it off. I was still sleepy and felt like I needed more.
"Zebbie, wake up! Wake up! Let's go see if Santa Claus left us anything!" It was Les, shaking me, and who still believed in the jolly old elf who supposedly left presents during the night.
I groaned, then seeing his excitement and fearing for his disappointment, I said, "Okay, Les. But don't be disappointed if he didn't."
"Oh, I know he must have! He never forgets us! Let's go see. Look outside, Zebbie! We have a big snow and ice cycles are hanging on the edge of the house. I'll bet we can make a snow man, too! Maybe Rosie will help us. Do you reckon?"
I felt kind of like an old man, watching his enthusiasm. Somehow, though, it was catching!
"Yeah, Les! Maybe Ma can make us some snowcream, too! Let's go!"
We ran into the living room, only to find Ma already up and putting her index finger over her mouth to shush us. Grandda was sitting over on the sofa, his head in his hands. He lifted his head when we came in, and we could see his eyes were red-rimmed.
"What happened?" I whispered to Ma.
She motioned us to come into the kitchen. Now what? Why had he been crying?
Ma told us to sit down at the table. Rosie was already in there, but no Marie. She must still be asleep. I looked at Rosie, who had a strange look on her face like I had never seen her wearing.
"Children, your Grandma O'Halloran passed away during the night. We have a lot to do today, so please be good and help me as much as you can."
I jumped up at once and ran into the living room, and into Grandda's arms. I had a question to ask him.
"Grandda! I'm so sorry! Tell me, did she, did she.."
I couldn't finish the question, but knew he realized what I was asking.
"I don't know, Zeb, not for sure. I sat with her for a long time, praying for her soul. She was in a lot of pain, but just before she passed on, she looked at me with sorrowful eyes and whispered, 'Tell them I'm sorry.' Then she was gone. I'd like to think she had finally surrendered her soul to the Lord, but I don't know for sure."
I've thought about her a lot since that night, wondering, yet realizing that we can never know for sure about anyone, because Salvation is such a personal thing. We can only see what people do after they proclaim to have accepted Jesus. It is a private thing between them and the Holy Spirit.
What a sad testimony to give about my Grandma. I guess we will only know for sure when we get to Heaven.
Soon Les and Rosie came in and hugged Grandda, and then I went into the kitchen.
"Ma, what are we going to do now? I know we were going to stay here and take care of Grandma, but she's gone now. Are we going to keep on living here?"
"Of course, Zeb. He still needs us, and we need a place to live. He is going to need us more than ever, because his life's partner is gone."
"Ma, do you think she is in Heaven right now? Grandda said she asked our forgiveness. Would she have done that if she hadn't become a believer?"
"I don't know, Zebbie. I hope she did, but we can't know for sure." She hugged me tight to her. "Let's just get through this day and the ones to come, the best way we can. We need to be thinking of your grandfather and what he needs right now. Would you help me get breakfast started?"
She had no sooner said this than we heard the doorbell ringing. I wondered who that could be.
(To be continued)