Mama said Grandy's just gone to heaven. Just like that. She's told me about heaven many times. She says it's beautiful like the picture postcard that Cousin Alma sent from British Columbia. All green trees and lakes and bright colors...and it's always spring in heaven, and you can eat candy and ice cream all the time. And God smiles at everyone in heaven and you're always happy.
The skin of Mama's hand feels like sandpaper as it clasps mine. Like the sandpaper Grandy used to give me to play with at his woodshop. I'd take a piece of wood and sandpaper it down to almost nothing. I liked doing that. "It's a reward," Grandy'd say to me with a wink.
"Don't be sad baby. Grandy was old and he must be happy now. He's just gone to heaven...and he'll be healthy and happy...and strong"
"Yes mama," I said though I thought Grandy'd seemed plenty strong to me when he'd held me last week before he gave me that piece of sandpaper.
"He was my daddy and I'll miss him too baby. And it's okay to cry. You go on ahead and cry if you want to."
One time, last year when I'd been real naughty Mama'd told me about hell. Hell is where they poke you with big sticks and swords and burn you with fire. And it's ugly and everyone's real mean, and the Devil laughs at you when you cry. And no matter how much you cry they keep you there and never let you go.
Mama's hand lets go of mine as she steps forward to put a bouquet of flowers on the polished coffin. I can see my face reflected in it. The minister then said we could all pray for Grandy's soul.
I close my eyes and pray, 'Dead Lord. Please make Grandy go to hell."