She had a laptop that would only last a few minutes alone without its charger. For her 24 years, she had felt the same, being dependent on her family for most things. She had a habit of driving a 40-minute trail two times a day for work. Over the years, her 1998 Volvo S-70 was still as brilliant a red as its first day. She thought back to 1998 and remembered what it was like to ride in the back seat of the car at five years old…
“Nana?” She trumpeted in her I-just-started-kindergarten voice.
“Can I have a strawberry candy?”
They were her favorite – mostly because they were what her Nana always had with her.
“Okay, just one now!” her Nana said while searching through her purse. “You don’t wanna ruin your appetite for when we eat soon,” she said in her Southern accent. Originally from Arkansas, her Nana and Papa brought the Southern soul into their family’s life. Jesus and hospitality mattered most and their shag carpet was perfect for kneeling to pray or laying down with a blanket after eating more than you knew you could.
After a trip down the familiar gravel driveway, the car came to a stop at their house. Usually, her first inclination was to run through the carpet and straight for the candy bowl, but this time, she stopped a second and asked again – with the strawberry candy clicking against her teeth as she spoke – “Nana, why are we here?”
“Oh, honey, we’re gonna have a good time together and you’ll get to eat some food, we can play, and have fun!” her Nana said lightly.
“No,” she said, “I mean, why are we here here…why are we living?”
“Oh!” Her Nana threw her head back and laughed. She had a river of joy ever ready to flow out of her at any given time. She had a habit of laughing at life when others would only scowl. She smiled, knowing the answer to this question right away, leaned down and matched Tori’s eyes. “Honey, I don’t know all the answers in this life, but I know we’ve been created to love. Like my dad, your Great Grandpa Buck, used to always say, ‘You just gotta love ev-er-y-bo-dy,’ and it’s true! I get to love you and you get to love me today!” She said with joy flowing from her face. “Now, let’s go on inside!” And just like that, the new kindergartner’s face changed from pensive to reassured as she walked inside with her Nana.
With one hand on the wheel, coming back from the memory, Tori laughed to herself thinking of the one strawberry candy that had outlasted all those years, still slightly melted under the back seat. It was strange how fast the time went by that took her from the back seat to the front. This car she now called Berry was something valuable passed on to her, just like the love.