As long as I can remember, the porch (front or side) has played an important role in my life. Whether it was home or a grandparents house, there has always been something safe and comforting about a porch. I didn't like our front porch as much in the summer because we had those little green lizards that liked it too. There just wasn't room for both of us!
One terrible morning we had gotten the news that my maternal grandfather, Grandaddy Oscar, had passed away. He and my grandmother, who we called Grandmama Omie (which was short for Naomi) lived a country next door to us. This loss would have been bad enough on it's own, but we had just said goodbye to our mother, their daughter, two months before.
The house was quiet, although family and neighbors had begun to mull around. I remember Grandmama standing at the big window that overlooked the garden. It was February, but in a few months she would have been looking right at where Grandaddy's flowers always bloomed. Especially his beloved gladiolus. I said nothing. I remember just sitting there in case she needed something. I don't remember seeing her cry, but that was not a surprise. She may have only been about five foot something, but she was incredibly strong. Without every turning around, she began to speak, still staring at the empty garden.
"Your Grandaddy has gone to pull all our chairs together on Heaven's front porch," she explained. The mention of Heaven having a front porch definitely had my attention. At 11 years old, I had no idea if this was Biblically correct. Grandmama said it so it must have been true.
"You see, Heaven has a big front porch. Like the house here but a lot bigger. And when you get there, families all get to sit together on the front porch, like people do at home." I just remember being absolutely engaged in her every word and watching her dark eyes looking out that window. "He went to help get all the chairs together for all of us. He'll be waiting for us right there on the porch."
Then she went back to gazing at the empty garden as if the flowers were two feet high. And nearly 40 years later, I still find a special comfort on the porch . . . side or front.