I remember Mrs. Mac. She was like a third grandmother to me. She reminded me of a scarecrow topped with steel wool. If she didn’t sleep with her hair wound around prickly curlers, it resembled a stainless steel scrubbing pad. Her eyes were the color of dried cornflowers on the roadside, with a gray-brown tint of gravel dust.
[pullquote width=”300″ float=”right”]It seemed to me, Mrs. Mac decided to be just like God and love everyone in the whole world.[/pullquote]Growing things was Mrs. Mac’s hobby. We spent hours in her backyard picking leaf lettuce, weeding, and flicking ants off her peonies. Almost every day in the summer, we sliced two humongous beefsteak tomatoes, one for me and one for her, and ate them with nothing but salt and pepper.
I always ran next door to Mrs. Mac’s house when things got crazy at mine. Like the day my one brother slammed his fist through a wall upstairs.
“Come on in,” Mrs. Mac said, cracking the screen door. “Things rough at home? You hungry?” I said yes, even though I wasn’t. It made her happy to spoil me. It made me happy to be spoiled.
Mrs. Mac was a “whosoever.” She was all the time telling me John 3:16 was her favorite verse in the whole Bible. “For God so loved the world, he gave his one and only son, so that whosoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” It seemed to me, Mrs. Mac decided to be just like God and love everyone in the whole world. She quoted the scripture often, to friends, to strangers, and to the white-shirted, black-tied, missionaries who took turns renting the tiny stone cottage on our street.
Whenever they attempted to persuade her to consider their ideas, an effort they made almost daily, she invited them to stay for lunch. Then, as she brought out grilled cheese sandwiches cut into triangles served with a handful of Charles Chips and piping hot mugs of Campbell’s tomato soup, she delivered her “whosoever” line and told them that was her doctrine and she was sticking to it.
Decades after Mrs. Mac passed away, I finally came to grasp for myself John 3:16. One of my regrets is not being able to tell her the impact she made on me as a child. But I’ll see her again one day and when I do, I’ll hug her and whisper into the space between us, “Thanks for the seeds you planted, Mrs. Mac.”