This morning I headed to Spartanburg to visit my great-aunt, Helen, my grandmother’s sister.

Visiting Aunt Helen is always bittersweet in a sense. I obviously enjoy my time with her and I know she enjoys the company, and yet, every visit reminds me of how much I miss my sweet grandmother.

The childhood memories begin to trickle into my mind from the moment I pull into her driveway. The unmistakable scent of muscadines, the sound of laughter, and the sight of colorful impatiens that once encircled a gigantic oak at the end of the driveway all still linger in the air. The deck built many years ago now covers the old cement steps that led to the back door. The same steps where many a mud pie was created as a little girl. (Who says “onlys” have no fun?)

Perhaps today’s visit was especially poignant as I missed hearing her sing “Happy Birthday” to me over the phone this past Tuesday. That’s something she had done all my life. Sometimes I would let the recorder pick up so I could hear it more than once.

As much as I would have loved to have heard her voice once more, I find joy in knowing that she was singing on Tuesday — not to me, but to her Lord, and that’s the greatest gift I could have asked for.

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