(Click here if you missed Chapter 1.)
REPAIRED BY LOVE
© 2004 by Sandra Pavloff Conner
“Well, that looks like everything we need to have your mail forwarded, Miss Wallace,” the postal clerk said as she glanced up at the girl sanding on the other side of the counter. “The order should become effective tomorrow.”
“That’s great,” Kana Wallace replied. “Thanks a lot,” she added, smiling at the clerk before she turned to leave. That smile lit up her rather ordinary face and put a definite sparkle in her large, chocolate brown eyes. Those eyes couldn’t be ignored, and they did a good job of redeeming her face from plainness.
“I hope you enjoy your extended vacation,” the clerk said. Kana thanked her once more and smiled briefly at the elderly man who had stepped up to the counter to take her place. She hurried to her car and made a fast trip back to the elementary school where she taught second grade. It wasn’t easy trying to do something like this on her lunch hour, but tomorrow would be the end of the year picnic, and then the next day was the last day of school. If she didn’t get these arrangements made, she wouldn’t be able to take off as soon as the kids had left.
She wouldn’t have had to be in a hurry, of course, but she was. She was looking forward to seeing Gram again, and spending two wonderful months with her in her hometown of Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Kana had often visited her there as a small child, and she had always loved the Great Smoky Mountains, as well as all of the fun things to do in a town that catered to tourists.
For someone who was a miniature golf nut, as she was, it was an especially good place to visit, even as an adult. But the view of the mountains and their quiet strength and restfulness were the biggest attraction for her now ‒ except for Gram herself, of course. She chuckled to herself now as she recalled that everyone in Gram’s church called her Grandma Nora, mostly because she virtually adopted most of the young people at one time or another, and was an active part of their growing up years. And Pastor McDaniels always called on her when he was counseling single ladies or young girls.
Kana was pretty proud of Gram. She was some special lady, and she definitely didn’t look or act seventy-six. Her faith was unshakable, and her devotion to prayer her first priority. Kana knew firsthand the effectiveness of Gram’s prayers. They had been prayed, and answered, for her personally a number of times in her twenty-nine years. And in her heart, she hoped that she would always be as faithful in her walk with God as Gram had been.
She swung into her parking spot now and almost ran into the school, hoping she would get to the classroom at least as soon as the students. And she just barely made it. She smiled at her young charges as they crowded in, their noise level especially high from the excitement of being at the end of another year.
“Miss Wallace,” Danny Hart ran up to her, shouting her name. “Miss Wallace can I show my map now … can I?”
“As soon as we’ve all settled into our seats, we’ll have our show and tell time, Danny.”
“Good,” he said, grinning and showing a missing tooth. “’Cause I want all the kids to see where I’m going for vacation.”
“I’m sure they’ll enjoy seeing your map, Danny. Now just sit down, and let’s get everyone quiet. … Children, settle down now, or we’ll have to give up our show and tell time in order to go over our classroom rules again.”
That little suggestion had the desired effect. Almost immediately, twenty rambunctious eight-year-olds scurried to their seats and started to lower their conversations to whispers.
“Good. … Now who all has something to show and tell about today?”
Two hours later, she saw her kids down the hall and out to their buses and their parents’ waiting cars. Then breathing a deep sigh of relief, she looked at the third-grade teacher, Valentina, who was also her best friend. “Do you think we’ll survive tomorrow?”
Valentina laughed. “It seems a little questionable, but I’m determined to survive. I don’t intend to bite the dust and miss my well-earned vacation.” She was an extremely pretty girl, a year younger than Kana. She had thick, sable hair that she wore in relaxed curls, and the smooth, dusky skin of her African-American lineage. But her eyes were a surprising aquamarine color. They twinkled now as she stood looking at her friend, one finger resting on her own face. Then she began walking slowly around Kana, studying her.
“You know I like your hair more all the time, don’t you?”
Kana had recently had her medium brown hair cut into a short cap that gave free reign to its tendency to curl naturally, and at Valentina’s suggestion, had let the beautician put a few golden highlights in it.
“Yeah, I have to admit, I feel like a new person. And I think I needed the lift it gives me. Thanks, Vallie, for talking me into it,” she said as she gave her friend a brief hug and turned to walk with her back into the building.
“Hey, what are friends for? You’d do the same for me. … And speaking of friends, I’m sure going to miss you, girl!”
“I’ll miss you too, Vallie. I wish you’d really pray about coming down. I know you want to spend most of the time with your family in Philadelphia, but you could spare a couple of weeks to come south, couldn’t you?”
“I’d like to say ‘yes,’ Kana, but with my sister’s wedding coming up that second week of July, and then all of the cleaning and getting things back in order after the other relatives leave, I just don’t know if I’ll feel good about leaving for any extended time. Mom tries to do too much most of the time, and I’d like to be sure that I’m taking the load off her for most of the summer.”
“Sure. I do understand. … I guess I am being a little selfish … but I’d like for you to get some rest and have some fun too.”
“Oh, I will have fun. You know my sister and I have always been close, and I’m going to enjoy every minute of planning her wedding and going through it with her. And then I’ll be able to spend time with my grandparents too, and I haven’t really had any time to be close to them for the last two years, with my staying here in Nashville to work on my master’s during the summers. So, actually, just being able to be at home instead of here working will be a treat.”
“Good. I’m glad. But if you do change your mind, you know Gram will welcome you with open arms.”
“Of course I know that, and you know how I feel about your Grandmother. I’d like to see her again too. … We’ll see what happens. I’m just going to play it by ear and not plan too far ahead. But we’ll be talking on the phone once in a while, so I’ll let you know if I can manage a trip down.”
“Okay.” Kana stepped into the doorway of her classroom. “Well, I guess we’d better get things straightened up for tomorrow. See you in the morning.”
“You bet,” Vallie replied and walked down the hall several feet to her own room.
Two days later, at 11:55 a.m. Kana locked the door to her classroom and walked down the hall to Valentina’s room to hug her friend goodbye and give her the gift she had brought her. Valentina was just lifting her briefcase from her desk, along with a wrapped package, which she had intended taking to Kana’s room.
“Oh, you’re here!” she said, as she looked up to see Kana coming through the door. “I was on my way down to give you this,” she added, holding out the package.
Both girls laughed as Kana handed Valentina a gift bag containing her gift, and then they set to opening their presents like two eager children. They couldn’t help but laugh when they realized they had given each other exactly the same thing, a beautifully bound journal.
“Well, I want you to record everything interesting and beautiful and … uh … handsome and broad-shouldered … that goes on in Gatlinburg,” Valentina said, in defense of her gift.
“That’s exactly the reason for my gift to you!” Kana answered.
“This is great!” Valentina said. “Now I can hardly wait to get back and compare journals and catch up.”
“Whoa, girl! Let’s not get carried away. Let’s enjoy our vacation before we have to come back, okay?”
“Deal!” Valentina said, hugging Kana tightly. “You take care of yourself, you hear? And if it starts to feel like you’re going to fall in love with anybody while you’re there, you be sure and carry this journal every minute, so you won’t fail to record one feeling.”
“All right, but the same goes for you.”
They threw away the wrapping paper and headed out of the room and down the hall. As they separated on the parking lot, they hugged each other again. “You’ve got my home number in Philadelphia?” Valentina asked.
“Sure do, and you’re sure you’ve got Gram’s with you?”
“Positively. If I don’t hear from you first, I’ll give you a call next weekend, and tell you how the wedding plans are going.”
“Okay. Have fun,” Kana said as she slipped into her car, and in another minute she was backing out of her parking space. A sense of joy and expectation surged through her as she made her way to the interstate. She could hardly wait to start putting some miles behind her, but she knew she’d need to stop at a fast food place and have some lunch before she turned onto I-40. She had been looking forward to this trip for weeks, but somehow, today she felt there was something even more exciting about it than she had planned ‒ almost as if there were something unexpected and wonderful waiting for her in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.
“Whatever it is, Lord … I’m ready!” she said, and slid her favorite praise and worship CD into the player.