I visited my old homeplace tonight, a town in the County of Pike called Virgie. The home is brown and warm and sings memory and holds my grandmother, who I call Mother, as does everyone I personally know.
Mother taught my dad to play guitar. My dad taught me to play guitar. She learned from her Irish father, Augustus Payne Hobson, who played both the banjo and guitar and learned from his and his and his.
Song is our family crest, our language.
My cousin Gary Dwayne (Hosscat) and my uncle Gary Wayne (Father of Hosscat) joined me this evening. We played several songs while Mother sat at the head of the table and listened, as always, polite and attentive, the halo never more than inches above her head.
Then she retired to her bedroom. We continued. Minutes passed, and she came back from her bedroom, the walker appearing first from the doorway and then Mother herself, her eyes tired and her mouth drawn, her finger pointing to us. She demanded silence, and Mother spoke a prayer.
She reminded us that Jesus was the son of God and that no single person should question this. She raised her hands in the air, the walker a forgotten thing before her, a metal thing of earth with no place in this moment. She spoke in tongues and prayed for my mom, prayed for my mom's soul and thanked God that my mom was still alive.
She spoke again in tongues. It filled the warm brown of my homeplace like days of old, when my skin was without scars and my heart still beating, still whole.
When she finished, Mother praised Jesus and sat again at the head of the table, head dropped, the wet path of a tear shining across her strong cheekbone. Her beautiful and holy hands again placed patiently in front of her. She looked again at us, the soft blue of her eyes calm now and loving cast out across her children.
The three of us said nothing. We strummed the chord of G, we sang, we strummed the chord of C, and we sang "Will the Circle Be Unbroken," and watched Mother raise her hands and praise and praise and praise.
For all the wrong I've done to the best of people I've known and the wrong I've done to myself, tonight I am reminded that her blood is my blood, and for the first time in such an awful long time I almost believe that because of this there may be hope.
Hope is enough tonight. Hope is a new life. It was not there yesterday.