When I got back home, I told mama that I had invited Miss Emmogene to supper. She said “that was nice of you. When is she going to come?”
I told her that Miss Emmogene said she wouldn’t leave her house because she was afraid her beau might come while she was gone. I was running my finger around and around in a circle on the kitchen table and mama said “what’s on your mind J-Lee?”
I said “mama, when you get old and live alone, do you just eventually give up on life?” Mama looked at me and said “sometimes. And sometimes, the loneliness is so unbearable you escape into a fantasy world. I believe that is what Miss Emmogene has chosen to do. Remember when I told you how horrible it was to be alone and have nobody who cares about you?”
“Yes’um,” I answered. “Well,” she said. “Sometimes people find comfort in an imaginary ‘friend’ if you will. That way, they don’t look and feel so tragic. I mean, we all know about Miss Emmogene’s beau. We’ve known about him for years. We all know that he’s not real but if it helps her feel a little more normal, why not just go along with her dream?”
She went on to say “there are people who actually have family but for some reason or reasons, they never see them. That’s another kind of pretension. They pretend they’re going to get a visit but they never do, so they attribute an unfortunate event for the reason. It’s a shame, really…how many lonely people there are out there.”
I got up and hugged her. I said “mama, I don’t want you to ever be alone and lonely.” She smiled and said “I’ll never be alone as long as I have you, and you my dear, are wise far beyond your years, I’m afraid.”
The next day on my way to Miss Emmogene’s house, I stopped and picked a few wild flowers that were growing along the path. When I handed them to her, she almost started to cry.
“How did you know that wildflowers are my favorite?” she asked. “The day I met my beau, after it stopped raining, he stopped and bought some wildflowers from a vendor. I can still smell their sweet fragrance.”
“He said ‘one day these will be a dozen of the most beautiful roses you have ever seen’ but I told him that nothing could ever compare to the beauty of natures’ little wild treasures he had just given to me.”
Her eyes were somewhat yellowed with age but when she talked of her beau, they would light up like a child’s eyes on Christmas morning. She became that young woman who so many years ago had fabricated a lover who would someday metaphorically ride up on his white stallion and whisk her away to an imaginary castle.
I was so fond of Miss Emmogene and through the years, I had come to realize two indisputable facts. She was not a witch and she was the epitome of eternal hope.
Eventually, my visits became less frequent and with each visit, Miss Emmogene seemed to be aging more rapidly. I made one last visit before I left for college and we celebrated with our usual cookies and brew, only this time it was real brew, which I brought.
She laughed and said “your mama is going to skin you alive when she finds out that we were drinking beer together.”
I smiled when I said, “who do you think bought them for us?”
To be continued____________