Gradually, he made his way up the creaky staircase, causing his surprise visit to be ruined.
“Samuel? Samuel, is that you?” Cried the shrill, old voice. He appeared in the doorway, a silent answer to her question. He only needed to take three large strides until he was beside her bed. He knelt down, his bare arms brushing the soft linen sheets. He remembered, not too long ago, when he’d come racing through that exact door, taking five big leaps until landing on the bed.
“No ma’am, it’s not me,” teased Samuel, as his lips effortlessly turned up into a smile. This caused the old woman to grin, her eyes sparkling with life. She tiredly reached out her shaky time wrinkled hand and placed it on his cheek, feeling his rough five o’clock shadow. She smiled at him as her mind wandered to all the different forms he had taken. A newborn, constantly crying; a toddler, always falling; a young boy, adventurous as ever; a young man, searching for the meaning of life; and now, a full grown man, whose days were measured and never taken for granted, for he never knew which would be his last. All those years she had watched him grow up, and never once did his deep blue eyes change.
“Samuel, oh my boy Samuel. You’re home again,” She whispered, still smiling.
“Not for long ma’am, but long enough to come see you,” His face stiffened as he said this, for the thought of leaving again was bittersweet. The war was ending, the armistice was to be signed soon, but soldiers were still expected to return to camp for at least a year. He took her hand off his face, and held it between his own, silencing the tremors, never taking his eyes off her. “But enough about that tell me ma’am, how have you been feeling?”
“Calling me ‘ma’am’, you’re not stationed, and I’m not some army general. I’m your grandmother for crying out loud.”
He chuckled to himself at how strict she sounded. It felt good to be back in the house where he grew up with the woman who raised him. For once Samuel felt happy, a feeling he hadn’t truly experienced in such a long time. Being stationed in South Korea, he had seen so many of his fellow soldiers die. It broke his heart to see men he had grown so close with fall dead beside him. But now, kneeling here beside his dying grandmother, he had never felt so rejoiced.
“Grandma, you are quite the woman,” He sincerely stated.
“Why don’t you go make yourself at home, cook your old lady some soup and then we’ll talk. Sound good Sammy boy?”
“Sure thing ma’ – Nana,” he corrected himself, straightening out his knees from below him until he stood tall in his six foot three frame. Again, he took three strides, it was all he really needed, to get to the doorway. He busied himself making the homemade soup for the woman who used to make it for him. In fact, she was the one who taught him the family recipe. He still remembers the first time she made it for him; he was merely four years old and in tears over the death of both his parents.
Knowingly, he measured the water and grabbed the vegetables needed. In the process of making the soup, Samuel thought about the time he had left here, and the time Nana had left anywhere. She was very sick, fighting Parkinson’s disease. In the months he had been away, she had taken a turn for the worse. Because Parkinson’s attacks the brain and nervous system, she has trouble moving her limbs. The first nerves to lose connection, are the ones furthest away. Since the last time he had seen her, she had lost feeling and movement to her legs, keeping her bed ridden. Not being able to move and living alone in a two story house caused great difficulty for Nana, so a nurse was hired.
Once Samuel was done preparing and cooking the soup, he filled two bowls and brought them up the dark oak staircase. He made his way into the room, to see his grandmother looking out the window that was positioned adjacently to the right of the wall her bed frame was pushed against. Samuel cleared his throat to signify his presence. Slowly, Nana turned her neck to face him. You could tell by the strenuous look on her face that a movement as simple as that was painful and difficult. It made Samuel’s heart ache to see his grandma in such distress. He wondered how the Lord could let someone go through this agony.