Under the scarf at Christmas

Published 9:03 pm Monday, December 23, 2013

By Dennis Edwards

Grandma Edwards had a scarf on her dresser under which she left change for me to buy exquisite junk food at Mr. Outlaw’s store. I’ve been thinking about that scarf this Christmas — thinking how she used it and what she was actually saying and doing by placing blessings beneath its delicate embroidery.

The whole tradition started with my mother getting upset, because she thought grandma was letting me have too much candy. “If you don’t stop he won’t be able to come by anymore.”

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It was a kind of nuclear option Grandma couldn’t allow. So she said “I can’t give you candy. But look under the scarf in the front room.” Every day after school, she left enough change for some choice bubble gum balls or B B Bats.

When we went to the old A&P Store on Saratoga Street, she’d let me put one thing in the basket each trip. Then one day when I was around the age of 8 or 9, I mentioned how I wanted my own basketball.

I had a friend who played with us on the court at Andrew J. Brown school and in his back yard. Whenever he didn’t like the way the game went he’d take his ball and go home. One day I let Grandma know he’d done it once too often.

She asked how much a basketball cost, and I was only too glad to tell, since I’d already done the research. A few days later, the change normally left under her scarf was replaced with paper money, enough to buy a nice leather basketball.

“Grandma, what’s this,” I asked. While putting her little snap purse away, she said, “Every boy should have his own basketball.”

So off I went to make the purchase. Excited, I brought it home to show Mama.

“Do you know Grandma Edwards lives on a fixed income?” Mama asked. “She only gets a small pension each month.” When she told me how much, my heart sank in shock. So the basketball went back for a refund. I made up some excuse when giving the money back.

A glow came over her face as she returned the money to the old snap purse. Later, I noticed her periodically opening it, taking a peek and smiling to her self as she rocked and sang hymns.

I remember turning my friends down that day when they wanted to play with their new basketballs. “Don’t you want to go play with your friends?” Grandma asked. I said, “No, I’d rather stay here with you. Tell me some more about my dad.” Her face lit up as she told me how much I was like him.

At that moment I understood how much she loved me and how he must have felt at my age.

The basketballs bounced in the distance that day, but not like the sweat rhythm of my heart in the presence of unconditional love smiling, laughing and rocking in that old chair.

Across the middle room from the scarf-covered chest of drawers, I learned what real love is all about. This time of year, it’s as if I can still see that old scarf, still feel the love she slid under it covering my weary soul.

Dennis Edwards is an Emmy Award-winning television news reporter and anchor, He is a 1974 graduate of Suffolk High School. Email him at dennisredwards@verizon.net.