Camden stopped short as he entered Aunt Jenny’s house after the funeral. He hadn’t visited since Uncle Lonny’s death a couple years previous. He had expected the familiar smells of Folgers and sandalwood incense to remain but was surprised that Uncle Lonny’s “sittin’ stump” was still in the foyer. Suddenly in want of his uncle’s comforting presence, he allowed himself to slowly sit down on its worn top and rest for a moment in its stability.
Camden’s mind flooded with memories of Lonny. His plain clothes, thick black hair, bright eyes, laid-back way of living, and the scent of Brut cologne punctuating his presence. Each morning after lacing up his shiny work shoes or stomping on his scuffed, worn yard boots, he’d sit on the stump and just pause for a bit, eyes closed. It was always known, though Camden couldn’t recall how, that Lonny was praying to what he called “All the Gods That Be”.
Camden basked in the memories of seeing Lonny there in the mornings, praying that those who were struggling would be given strength, his loved ones would be watched over and that his own steps would be guided by grace.
Camden recalled that Lonny didn’t consider himself a religiously educated man. But he figured that everyone was right in their faith whenever it made life easier for their neighbor.
“Who am I say to there is only one God?” he would explain with a crooked smile when pushed about his religion or how he addressed God. “So, I pray to all of them, just to be sure my prayers get to the right one.”
The memory of Lonny’s wiggling toes floated into consciousness. Each evening, after removing his shoes or boots he’d wiggle his toes then pause to pray again. This time giving thanks for strength granted, the day’s blessings, and that everyone would be relieved of their worries for the evening. Only then would he enter his home to share a meal, conversation and companionship with Aunt Jenny and their brown one-eyed dog, Coal.
“She sat there twice a day, every day, just like Lonny did.” It was Cousin Sue’s voice tugging Camden from the pleasant memory. “In fact, that’s where she was when I found her last Tuesday. I’d never seen her so peaceful.”