We pulled into the railroad station just after midnight. It had been a long trip and I was weary. The next day’s agenda weighed heavily on my mind as I bent to pick up my sleeping six-year-old daughter off the seat.

Outside the station the air was damp. I had forgotten how much cooler it was here in the mountains than our home in Georgia. It seemed like ages since I left this small West Virginia town to be with the man I married against my father’s wishes.

My cousin Jimmy was waiting like he promised. He jumped out of his car when he saw me and grabbed Vanessa.
“She looks like you” he said placing her head on his shoulder.
“It’s too dark out here to tell” I scolded him.
“I can tell” he assured me.
“Thank you for this Jimmy. I wouldn’t want to show up in the middle of the night and wake Daddy. He’s grouchy enough in the day time”.
“Make no mention of it, girl. You know you are my favorite cousin. I am just so glad to have you home. You can stay as long as you like”.

“Thank you Jimmy I love you too. But me and momma got it all figured out all we have to do is convince Daddy, and that comes tomorrow, after church.”

Vanessa barely stirred through carrying her up to Jimmy’s apartment above his parent’s garage to laying her in his bead and taking off her coat and shoes. I did the same, dropping my coat on his desk chair and my shoes by his bed. Then in the same clothes I wore when I snuck out of Macon I pressed my cheek against the blond softness of my daughter’s curls and fell asleep to her quiet breathing.

The next morning I woke up groggy and stiff. Vanessa stirred when I did. “Mommy, where are we?” she asked in her sleepy voice. “We are in West Virginia at Cousin Jimmy’s. We will go to grandmamma and poppa’s right after breakfast.” I explained.

“Where’s Daddy?” she asked and I felt a lump come up in my throat. I looked at my beautiful daughter and could see the nose that was so similar to her father’s. She had that same mark on her left ear as he did and when she was tired her left eye drooped just like his. I thought of watching her grow and seeing the traces of her father in her for all the rest of my life and wondered how I could both love and hate those same characteristics.

“He’s home. Daddy has to work and can’t come to West Virginia.” I explained. “Now come let’s see what Aunt Mary has made for breakfast”.

Later that morning Jimmy drove us to my child hood home. I saw my mother peeking out the window and watched her sprint out the front door as we pulled in the drive. By the time I got my car door opened tears glistened in her eyes. “My beautiful girl” she exclaimed and hugged me so hard I thought she would knock the wind out of me. I eased out of her grip and pulled Vanessa up. “Momma, this is your granddaughter Vanessa”.

My mother was sobbing by now as she took Vanessa into her arms. I thought Vanessa would cry for me when this strange woman verging on hysteria grabbed her up but she didn’t. Instead she giggled and sent my mother into a fit of laughter. “She’s even more beautiful in person” my mother informed me. Her hair is as golden as yours was at this age. And those eyes! I could fall in love with those eyes my mother laughed. “I already did” came a voice from my childhood. I looked up and my father was beaming at his wife and my daughter. “She has your eyes Sara” my father said to my mother. And then he looked at his granddaughter and in a gentle voice I did not recognize said “I am your poppa Vanessa. I am so glad to finally meet you”.

And then came the voice that I knew so well “Jimmy, what you doing standing there? Get that luggage upstairs before the day is gone!”

It felt good to be home.


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