When Merle had his first accident, we was in the waitin’ room at Dr. Forrester’s office. It was the first time we’d been on an outing since the back surgery that we all knew was not anywhere close to successful even that early in the game. In fact, Merle would never be able to walk again without assistance after that surgery. Merle tugged my hand and said he needed to get to the bathroom quick, but we didn’t make it there in time. Ms. Anne was sweet tempered about cleanin’ it all up, but Merle was mortified and so was I.
A couple weeks later it happened again at the house. I was outside throwin’ scraps over the fence for the hens and I heard Merle hollerin’ so I got myself back in the house, but it was too late.
Dr. Forrester had suggested we put a urinal on the table next to Merle’s reclining chair, which I was dead set against at the beginning, but besides the fact that it took a considerable bit of time every time Merle had to pee, I didn’t want Merle humiliated and I didn’t want to have to clean up the mess either. So I ran myself in the Dodge all the way to Raleigh because I didn’t want nobody we knew see me buyin’ a urinal in the local Walgreen’s.
Who knew that urinal would give both of us so much freedom? It didn’t take even one day for me to turn my mind around, and that night Merle and me shared a big laugh about it because we both remembered the days before there was bathrooms in the house and everybody had a pee can under their bed and nobody thought one thing about it one way or t’other.
The next thing I did was this. I put the little sparrow my sister Leilah gave me on the eve of my 13th birthday on that table right next to Merle’s pee. Leilah come home that night all aglow because Petey had proposed to her and she had accepted his hand in marriage. She climbed into my bed to share her news with me. It made me feel really special to be the first one in the family to get the news. That night Leilah also told me a bunch of other things. Growin’ up on a farm it wasn’t so much that I didn’t know about the birds and the bees, but there are lots of things to know besides the mechanics of things. Leilah told me she knew our Mama would never have such a discussion with me and she didn’t want me to be ignorant of these things.
You don’t need to know nothin’ more about the things Leilah imparted to me that night, that’s been between her and me for the past 60 years, but then she handed me a little package wrapped in newspapers. It was a delicate little porcelain sparrow. She quoted the scripture to me about His eye bein’ on the sparrow, and she said once she left home she wouldn’t be around to look out after me, but she knew He would never leave or forsake me, and it gave her a great comfort to know that.
It’s true that Merle and me have to face that our best years are behind us now,but in spite of that, I will say right out loud that His hand has been over us our whole lives and that’s a fact pure and simple.
Now every time I grab Merle’s pee to go dump it, I lay my eyes on the little sparrow Leilah gave me and it gives me a good feelin’ and keeps me from feelin’ sorry for myself.