I was now wondering how to make something as good as NanaG’s. Pretending I was a perfect chef who could cook anything and was teaching my young students to recall a previous baking lesson, I started asking the twins for the pancake recipe. This process was taking too long. My boy was hungry. That was all he cared about now. His sister was a little easier to please. Mum NanaG usually put all the things she needed on the table.
“Good darling.” I encouraged her. “What kind of things do we need to put out for our cooking?”
“A bowl, some butter, eggs, sugar and flour with milk and spice!” She finished triumphantly.
NanaG had a song for the mix.
Pancakes are the easiest to make
“Start the bowl with a warm rinse
Melt the butter in a little heat
Crack the eggs but not with a fist
Pour in the milk and give the mix a twist
Fold in the flour, show off your power
Top it all up with choice spice all over!”
My little girl was rehearsing her poem and changing the words all the time. She got herself bouncing from one foot to the other; reminding me of how carefree I had been so many years before…
The thoughts of how I would sing about Jesus and happily dance came flooding back. This was not the time to brood. But I had hardly slept all night because my mind had been in some turmoil.
Anyway, I needed to focus and return my thoughts to the present as my son, Jordan, was tugging me and saying, “Mum can I have something to eat?”
There were tears in his eyes. The kind that drew compassion from me. I momentarily turned my attention to him. There was no reasoning with a hungry 7 years old now I thought, as I walked over to the fridge. Thankfully NanaG had stocked it with some lifesavers. There were cheese biscuits, dumplings, even plastic containers of rice and it seemed peas and packed curry sauce. There was skimmed milk, chocolate drinks, yoghurt and more. I reached out for two pots of yoghurt asking him to choose one. He was so grateful it seemed. Rubbing his eyes, once more, he came closer to my couching frame to get me close enough to the same level as his face. “Darling, which one would you like? There’s a strawberry and cherry one.”
“Mummy, strawberry please”
“Good boy,” I said as I encouraged his manners. He had not let me down. His sister was watching this whole scene with half-interest while trying to organise the ingredients for the pancake.
“Would you like a yoghurt too?” I asked offering her the other flavour. A scowl registered on her face as if she would be betraying the plan to make the pancakes.
As if reluctantly, she put out her right hand to claim the second pot. That would buy me time to get my act together. I vaguely remember the steps for making a pancake. My mum used to have an electric waffle maker so I started to browse NanaG’s shelves for something that looked like one. I should hack guessed she would probably use a frying pan to make hers.
The sound of “church-like” music was emanating from her room and a happy and chuckling NanaG was walking towards the twins who were talking excitedly all at once.
They wanted to show her their yoghurt pots and the little madam wanted to show off her cooking abilities with regards to the ingredients laid out for our potential, in-the-making pancake.
They were grabbing Gracie’s hands and pulling her towards the small dining table to show her I suppose that they would sit down to eat.
NanaG had some nice perfume on and was I would say half-dressed because there was not yet any outing shoes or headgear or hat. I think she wanted to interrupt her dressing to see we were ok. She sat at the table with the twins a little while as they talked, especially listening to the little madam; recount the poem NanaG had made up and taught them about pancakes. There was a smile of satisfaction on her face. I think she loved having the kids over. It must have brought her some new lease of life.
“I think the pancake must wait now. It will be lunchtime soon”
She tried to hide her disappointment at NanaG’s words and knew NanaG was dressing up to go somewhere soon.
“NanaG, I like your dress”
“Thank you, sweet child” Gracie beamed as she responded.
“Are you going somewhere nice, NanaG?” She asked hoping this time she won’t be brushed off.
“Yes I’m getting ready for church” she responded with a smile.
“Would you like to come with me?” She asked but looked at me pointedly.
“Gracie…” I started, “we don’t go to church“ I finished firmly.
“Church? What’s that?” My insistent daughter wanted to know.
“Is that like one of mummy’s party outings?” She usually goes out at night.”
Now it was my turn to be in the firing line. It was not easy to get away with half-answers with these kids. They would nag and ask until you gave in. But her brother was just finishing his little treat and seemed ready to join in now.
“So NanaG” he joined in the discussion. “What is a church?”
“A place where we go to meet with and talk about Jesus”
“Like in the book you bought us”
“The Jesus who was so kind to children”
“So we can meet him too?”
“Can we meet him today?”
I had no words to add to this intriguing dialogue. It seemed the children had been paying more attention than I realised to what Gracie had been teaching them. Yes, I remember she bought them some bible stories. I did not think much of God or Jesus anymore. My resolve was that if he was so good I would not be at the mercy of Bode, my stepdad and Dick and all these men. NanaG seemed to think this Jesus was a good person; I had my views on these especially since I had not stepped into a church in years.
“Can we meet Jesus?” The question was asked again. “Where does he live?”
“If he’s in heaven, how can he be in church?”
“Well, I would like to see him today!” My handsome son finished.
It was getting a little awkward now.
If I said no, it would make me look bad. If I said yes, I think you know the rest…
Gracie glances over at me as if fishing for my approval. I could see her watching my expression and trying to decipher whether to encourage the children. My face fell. I could hear her utter an ever so quiet “hmmm” before taking the kids in both hands and walking off to the kitchen.
It was so thoughtful of her to give me some space while they went off to make those pancakes. I’ve been saved, but not by the bell, this time.
Was it time for me to give God/church a chance? Did I have a chance in hell of being accepted? Would he look on me with kindness and not judge me? My life has been pretty dark. I hardly had time for God. I slumped into NanaG’s sofa to absorb the shock of it all. A sit down was needed to carry the emotional and physical weight of my body. After a night of not much sleep, maybe this God was reaching out to me. Did I have the right to deny the children access to him?
This was an excerpt from the book: Love at First Byte