She took her rest outside, on the front porch, on the wooden bench swing her boys hand-crafted with skills learned in shop class and presented to her on Mother’s Day a few years ago. She was proud of their workmanship and the realization of the hours they spent on her account fanned a warmth in her, self-assurance in knowing she had taught them as well as she could.

The porch was a small rectangular thin slab of concrete. It was shaded by a metal awning held up by decorative wrought iron stanchions that when new, added a sliver of elegance to the place. It had a southern exposure that placed it just right to capture the cooling summer breezes that blew in from over the river. Visitors settled in quickly, many gathering beneath the three large poplar trees that shaded the yard. It was easy to be comfortable there.

Mama was most pleased when all the family gathered. There were lots of weekend barbecues with visitors getting more than their fill of smoked ribs, grilled chicken, slow-cooked brisket, and ice-cold beer. When the cooking was done outdoors, Mama relaxed, a spectator swinging on the front porch bench taking it all in.

Out in the yard, with a cold bottle of beer and a Marlboro hidden between her fingers, lest a daughter find out, her gaze showed a peace derived from being years in a place, giving it all that you have and being repaid with more than you need.

Once as I sat with her, she leaned over and whispered, “Si Dios, cielo es como este, no voy a tener miedo de ir.”

“If God’s heaven is like this, I will not be afraid to go.”

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