Auggie and I left the graveside and began walking the gravel path to our car. The day was perfect, weather-wise. Mama Kate loved living on the coast. From the time I was small, not a beautiful day wasted. She never let me sit inside on a nice day. She’d say, Come on outside, Pehr! This is a day sent from God in heaven.” How grateful we were to bury her on such a lovely day. I’m not sure I would have survived this on a rainy day.
My mind was racing in panic mode as we got closer to our car. No one could love as sincerely as Mama Kate! I was the kind of love that would stick to you. She is really gone! Such a hollow feeling. So surreal. I blurted out, “What are we going to do, Auggie?” He said nothing. He draped his arm across my shoulder and squeezed my arm., fighting tears. Somehow, we just had to do this. But how?
Just a week ago, she and Auggie attended my graduation. She was so pretty that day., beaming with pride. She wore her sapphire blue dress that made her eyes sparkle. The same dress she wore the day I painted her portrait. Auggie and Mama Kate were amazed at how my painting bore her likeness. Though, I felt I had not captured her spirit. Auggie had painted my great granddaddy’s portrait for her 75th birthday. It hangs over the mantle across from my portrait of Mama Kate.
I graduated with high honors, yet refused to apply for college. It didn’t seem right to leave when she needed me the most. During my high school years, her health began to decline significantly. Knowing she didn’t have a lot of time left, I didn’t want to be away when something happened. After all her sacrifices for me, I owed her this!
She loved God, family, and friends with all her might. She not only knew how to be kind, she knew how to show it to everyone she met. She knew it’s effect and was the sweetest person anyone had ever met.
Once, when I was around six, I asked her, “How can God be everywhere all at once?” Always eager to share anything about God with me, she said, “Sweet boy, God is a spirit. He is everywhere!Pehr, you have the holy spirit inside! It is in all of us! He made us in his image. He’s over all the Universe!.” She could see the wheels turning in my little head. I asked, “Wouldn’t he look like a person if he made us in his image?” She smiled and replied, ” A lot of people think of him as an old grey-bearded man. But being made in his image means we all have a little bit of God in us. It’s pure love, Pehr! It is a big responsibility. We need to make sure our choices line up with the God in us.”
Art was my passion. Auggie had stoked this desire all my life. He and Mama Kate had surprised me by transforming our sunroom into an art studio. A graduation gift that was perfect.
Arriving home, I was overcome with grief. I wept deeply and extensively. When the tears would not come, I showered and dressed in my most comfortable sweats. Wishing I was old enough to purchase alcohol, anything to numb the pain. Then, hearing Mama Kate’s voice in my head, “Don’t follow the crowd, son. Drinking will only lead to no good.”
I grabbed a coke out of the fridge and went to my new art studio. I sat and began to draw on my sketch pad. For about an hour I was so absorbed and completely at peace. Usually, I am such a perfectionist with my work, I go through several sketches before I am satisfied. But this time it was like I was inspired. My hands were steady. Every mark perfect. Finishing up, I held it at arms length to admire. This is it, I thought. This is the one.
Around dusk, another wave of depression brought tears. I was ugly crying. I screamed out, “Why! Why now, God?” No way to dam the tears, I got up and reached for the car keys. For the two years, I had my driver’s license, I have driven Mama Kate’s 1985 Chevy Impala. Although over thirty years old, It only had 52,00 miles on the odometer. It was kept in our shed out back, and in mint condition. Except for the small scrape on the passenger side door from the time I sideswiped the side of the shed. She knew I had done something when she saw my face as I came in the back door. She loved that car! I hated to tell her I’d been careless. But she just wrapped her arms around me and said, “It’s alright, sweet boy. You’ve learned a lesson.”
Sitting in the Chevy, I wiped away my tears on my sleeve. Took out my phone and hit up Google for an address. The first thing that popped up caught my eye. An easy choice for me. The only Chinese tattoo artist listed. Zhau Llu’s Ink. He said for me to come in right away. Thinking this was amazing luck, I would soon know it was divine providence.