Jesus Loves Me read by the author.
Jesus Loves Me
“Your daddy always liked fishing on Sunday mornings,” Mama said. I called to tell her I was going fishing for the first time since winter turned to spring. It was Mother’s Day.
“Just another day,” she said reminding me of how old she was and how many Mother’s Days she had seen and about the time I played sick and stayed home from church to make her a Mother’s Day cake. As bad as that cake turned out, she had loved it. I remembered.
“Will do, Mama,” I promised when she offered to fry whatever fish I might catch. I wasn’t planning that far ahead. With my boat trailing behind my old pickup all I was thinking about was getting out on the water.
And Mama was going to church like always, with it being Sunday morning. And she had already made Sunday dinner, fried chicken, potato salad and a pie, same as always for the forty something years I remembered.
The river wasn’t far and I couldn’t get there fast enough as I hurried my old truck along, windows down, and the whole world green and smelling of honeysuckle and lilacs. Mama always put on a little lilac water when she dressed for church, reminding me of springtime even in the winter.
We hadn’t gone very far down the twisting roads which lead to the river, me and my truck and my boat rattling behind when I passed an old man. I knew he was old by the way he walked, like it hurt to take each step.
“Poor fellow,” I heard my mother’s whisper. That is what she would have said if she had been there. That was the way she was and she would have told me to go back and pick him up. So I did.
“To see my mama,” was his answer when I asked where he was headed. I pushed open the door for him to climb in. With him being aimed in the same direction as me I couldn’t let him walk. “Just down the road a piece,” he added his voice old and tired. He was carrying some flowers in one hand and wrinkly brown paper bag in the other. The flowers were for his mother he explained and in the bag was his lunch. Then he told me roses were his mother’s favorites.
“They’re my mama’s favorites too,” I told him. My daddy used to buy them for my mama and plant them so that when he was gone she could remember.
“Fishing?” he asked looking for something to say. The truck was quiet but for the wind whistling through the opened windows and the sound of the gravelly road. His hands holding the flowers tight reminded me of my fathers, spotted with age and worn thin by years of work.
“Yes,” I answered.
“Taking her some flowers to my mama,” he said words a little jumbled.
I had brought my mama a card for Mother’s Day. I showed it to the old man feeling guilty for not having mailed it yet. But I would. He said it was beautiful, being careful as he returned it to its envelope after studying it through eyes distant and far away.
“Mamas are special,” he said and I agreed. And I agreed when he said that our mamas are the only ones who ever share their heartbeats with us. I had never thought of that before. But it is true.
“Just down the road a little further,” he said, before he began to hum ‘Jesus Loves Me.’ With a smile he told me his mama had taught him that song.
Stirred by a memory, I almost told him my mama had taught me that song too. But I didn’t. The old man seemed like the one needing to talk.
“Right yonder,” he said pointing to a shady stretch of river road up ahead. His voice cracked when he said it a second time. I was already slowing as I tried to remember there being a house on this lonely road.
He climbed down, slow and painful, not forgetting to look back and thank me through the opened window of my truck. Then the old man disappeared into the deep shade of the big trees and toward the tall grass growing thick around old stones, cold and grayed by time and peeking back at me. He was gone.
All I saw of the river that day was when I turned my truck around and headed back to where I came from and crying all the way. And thinking I might need my boat after all.
Mama didn’t ask why I showed up at her house dragging my boat behind with a face full of wind dried tears. Mamas know. She only hugged me, letting me breathe in the smell of her lilac water, and told me she loved me. And I didn’t ask why she fried extra chicken and made extra potato salad and made a pecan pie, my favorite.
And on the way to mama’s that day as the smell of honeysuckle and lilac mingled with the warm spring time air I sung ‘Jesus Loves Me.’ The way she taught me. ‘Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.Little ones to him belong they are weak but he is strong.’
Jesus loves me and my mama loves me too.
“Happy Mother’s Day to all the beautiful and wonderful mothers all over the world.”
Edward Reed 2018