All morning today the phone rang. At least three or four times within two hours. I hate it when the phone rings because it is never important, just another salesman or something, and if I get up before noon I don’t get a full 7 hours of sleep. Going to sleep at 4 am has its disadantages. I eventually got up, sleeping later, partly because I didn’t get much sleep over the past couple days, partly because my last few hours this morning were continually interrupted. I looked at the time and I could make the Princess Bride movie at the theatre if I hurried. I checked my messages to see what was so important. First one was my boss, asking if I wanted him to come pick me up as he was watching the playoffs at his house on a large 60 something inch t.v. But the next message got me. It was my grandmother, who I know is in the hospital in Little Rock. She has an anneurism in a potentially dangerous spot and is going under the knife Thursday. All of this I knew from my dad. Yet my grandmother’s message was that she had tried calling me this morning but didn’t leave a message, and that I should call her, she had to talk to me. Her tone was loving, but serious. My mind was very foggy with sleep but when I listened to this message it was as if the wind blew all the clouds out of the sky. I was instantly awake and alert and very troubled. My grandmother has never called me, we’ve spoken perhaps once since I’ve last seen her, in what… 96? Since going off to the Marines I’ve seen her only a handful of times. And now to get a phone call, a couple of them in one day, unnerved me. What crossed my mind was that something had happened to Dad. I could tell in her tone that she was serious and the matter was important. I did not have the number where she was at and my attempts to reach my Dad were null. I hoped that he was in church, as usual. The only thing that I could imagine was that Dad and Diane had been involved in an auto crash along the highway which runs through the Felsenthal area, known as “the dump” it claims a lot of lives. So I’ve been a bit anxious today. I stayed home instead of going to the movie and watched the Jets game.
Finally I got a phone call. She asked me if I knew who it was. Yes, grandma. She told me that she was going under the knife thursday and that she was putting her affairs in order. She said that she was divying up the old place among her boys, but that she wanted to also give me a portion of it, if I would accept it. Did I want it? I was dumbfounded. Accepting something from your grandmother in a will while she is preparing to undergo potentially dangerous surgery is not my idea of fun. I’d rather fight a bear. I choked back an answer, tried to sound calm for her, and said that what I really wanted was to see her when I flew down to Arkansas in February. She chuckled and said that she wanted to see me too. She stressed the importance of land in the family, that land remains, that it was a solemn belief of hers that every American should own at least a small portion of land. She said that who knows, perhaps someday I’d want to build a little shanty on it. She said someday I might want to come home, and that the couple of acres she was giving to me might be close enough to call home. Yes, it is. I’ve lots of memories of those acres. The hot Southern summer, my granddad whittling wood in his rocker, the coon dogs and deer dogs everywhere, Jenny the mule back near the barn, and more. If a place is a part of nature imbued with emotion, then those acres are definitely a place in my heart.