Heuristic

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heuristic
  1. encouraging a person to learn, discover, understand, or solve problems on his or her own, as by experimenting, evaluating possible answers or solutions, or by trial and error: a heuristic teaching method.

Life is pretty dumb without Nana Bettes in it. Most of the time I sit on the porch swing, not swinging, but just staring off into space as I think about Nana. Sometimes I like to sit at her grave and just talk out loud, but Carter caught me there a couple days back and threatened to disown me or tell our parents that I was crazy and obsessed.

I asked him what Nana Bettes would say about him disowning his older sister. He left me alone after that.

My parents want me to talk, but I never have too much to say until I retreat into the quiet to sit and read her tombstone. Then words come with tears and I end up tired, sad, and a little angry as I watch the sun set.

I cry her name into the grass and half expect to see a full grown weeping willow overtaking my place of mourning when I return the following day.

Anger is not useful right now, but I still don’t think it’s right for Nana to not be here. Nobody is able to do the things she did. Auntie Beatrice is Nana’s namesake and she still can’t make Nana’s pot roast right! This travesty makes it all the worse.

“Just watch me, chile,” Nana would often say as she kneaded dough, baked pies, cast a fishing line, or replaced a button on a shirt. “It’s simple.”

I miss her heuristic ways and her accent from the Bayou. And I miss her bravery.

“We all gotta go sometime, chile,” she had said once. “I feel right as rain, as the old folk used to say, but I was talking to the Man Upstairs and I told ’em I was ready to don my white clothes.”

I loved the way she talked about the “old folks,” as if she were still young and the way she described her conversations with God, as if he were one of the guys from church who passed by her house on his way to visit the sick and shut in, only to stop for a little tea and a thick slice of her mouthwatering pound cake.

When I think about it, I realize that Nana Bettes had been ready for those white clothes for a long time now, but for some reason, I wasn’t as ready… And even though it doesn’t matter, I selfishly want her to give up those clothes and come back to me. I tell her tombstone that I wasn’t ready and I’m still not as I water my willow tree.

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