My grandmother helped put in motion the weekly ritual of going to church every Sunday morning and dinner every Sunday afternoon. Because of her, I attended Sunday School, knew the books of the Bible, and could quote some of those old familiar scriptures. Because of my grandmother I grew up to call Christianity the root of my faith, but if you asked me who I wanted to be most like,I would always say, my mother.
Everybody loved my mother. She knew how to work a room from end to end, and she always left people laughing. When she was my age, she was singing in the church choir and had strengthened her voice so much that she was elevated to church soloist. When she sang, the whole congregation listened with amazement at the timber in the voice of this child, a sixteen year old commanding the attention of seniors.
And her looks would not be outdone by her voice. She was tall, slender and beautiful, but by the time I came around her life had broken into a million little pieces. First pills for pain after some minor cosmetic surgery, and then pills to soften the edges of anxiety that preceded her singing engagements. As the stages for her performances increased beyond the walls of the church to secular arenas teeming with thousands, so did the need for stronger and stronger drugs. Where does a person go after cocaine?
I wasn't looking to establish a "Here lies. . . “ stone emblem like the one my mother left behind for me, I just wanted those intoxicating standing ovations, spotlights, limousines. Since my grandmother had wielded her influence to shape my mother's early career, I was certain that she would do the same for me.
"I want to be like my mother, Nana. I want to bring those happy days back to the family. And I’ll avoid the pitfalls that my mom couldn’t seem to get around. You always told me to press on. Well, that's what I'm wanna do.”. Shuffling through the pictures in my wallet, I settle on one. "I could look just like her Nana. All I have to do is . . ."
“Shh,.. Listen to me.I can see why you might want to be like her. At one point in time, your mother was the best of the best. That’s all over. But there’s something even better for you. You have to stop looking backward. Go over there and get that book by my nightstand.”
I didn’t really want to move. On this blue sofa, Nana nursed my scuffed elementary school knees and my bruised high schoolemotions. I always knew that no matter how crazy the world was before I sat down next to Nana, on that blue sofa, we would put the world back together before I rose. “Life is always good when we sit together in this blue chair, Nana.”
I rose from the safety net of the blue sofa and obtained the book --the King James version of the Bible.
“Now let's see how fast you can find Phillipians 3:13. When you do, read it to me.”
My Sunday school teacher had taught me well. I found myself reciting Galatians, Ephesians, Colosians. The rest was even easier.
“You got it?”
‘“But one thing I do. Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead. I press on toward the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus".’
“Anytime you start feeling like you wanna be like your mother was, I want you to remember this verse. Now that’s blue sofa living.”
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