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Heavenly Hostess

Preacher’s kid that I am, I haven’t believed in a god, let alone any kind of heaven, since I was 11 years old.  Nor did I believe in my Grandma Davis, who definitely did believe in everything her Southern Baptist upbringing taught her.  Child of the north that I was, I believed my Grandma Davis was the worst of both worlds:  an utterly humorless and relentlessly austere New England school marm who was convinced that black people didn’t deserve equality unless they talked and acted exactly like white people.  We argued repeatedly about everything from civil rights to religion.

But the night she died, I had a dream.  I was in San Diego, of all strange places.  I was alone and trapped among a huge throng of people.  Then, apparently on a side street that rose above the crowd (though San Diego is flat), I spotted a woman in a cheesy fake leopard-skin pillbox hat, set at a rakish angle.  Imagine my surprise when I figured out that, rather than the corner hooker, this was Grandma Davis, and she winked at me.  (I could have sworn that she didn’t know how to wink.)

Suddenly the scene changed and there I was in some ridiculous cliche with impossibly blue skies, cotton-ball clouds, birds chirping furiously and a bunch of old people in white robes flying around on huge wings while they blew trumpets and strummed harps.  I looked down.  Yup, there were my feet firmly planted in the middle of the intersection of two streets that were absolutely, positively paved with gold.  I looked across one of the streets.  There was Grandma Davis, impish look of a triumphant but mischievous child smeared all over her face as she put her hands on her hips and announced, “I told ya so!”

I woke up laughing.  In the shadowy vestiges of my sleep, I thought I heard my father, the preacher, deliver the final line of what had all been a sermon of his about redemption.  And I smiled again and again that day, feeling that my Grandma Davis was, at last, free.

Since then I’ve allowed myself to hope…because it would be so deliciously charming and ironic…that when I die I actually do find myself with a smug and thoroughly vindicated Grandma Davis at the intersection of two streets paved with gold.

Travel

Berber Breeding

It was a rough trek, countless hours swaying and jerking back and forth across the dunes as my camel planted and replanted his enormous feet in the sand.  But, though no path marked their way, the wind whispered of countless others over the centuries who’d traversed this part of Morocco. …
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Idiots Abound

Well Wishers

All right, in my heart of hearts I do understand that gratitude is the only appropriate reaction to anyone who wishes me well.  When I was first diagnosed with a serious medical condition, some responded magnificently…most notably my truly magnificent daughters.  But I did have to bite back less-than-gracious responses…
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Flash Fiction

Deadly Dark

It was a dark and stormy night. But inside the flying saucer all was calm and bright.  And all the other conditions absolutely essential to survival for the man-eating aliens aboard were also in perfect working order, including the exact right mix of atmosphere and air pressure. Floodor pecked at…
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Aging

Lethal Luggage

We all know that being overweight is bad, but I haven’t seen a whole lot written about how very much worse it is for the elderly…almost to the point of being a fairly reliable death sentence.  However, I immediately grant that the potentially presumptuous statement I just made is based…
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Reviews

Wondrous White

In this month’s post, in the wake of a global pandemic, instead of celebrating May Day with the usual carefree flowers, I’m simulataneously recommending two versions of a story that even includes the icy wonder of snow.  The first is the very Russian story written in 1848 by a young…
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