My name is Suzanna Stoggins, after two long years of college without a break I am on my way home. My good friend Bill and I have been in touch by letter all this time. I met Bill several years back, and we dated for a while. We became the best of friends really, and on my last visit home, we promised we would keep in touch. Now that I’m on my way home, he’s gone away to college, so we still won’t see each other for quite some time. I do hope he will come home for part of the summer at least, although it’s not likely, in his last letter he said if he had the money to cover the summer quarter he would stay. This means he will get back home for good, hopefully in a couple of years.
I’m so anxious to see my best friend Janet again. We have so much to talk about after two whole years. I hope she and Rick have solved all their marital problems by now. Before I went off to school, Janet was always telling me I needed to get married to find real happiness. I don’t think I will have to worry about her talking marriage to me any more not since they have had so many ups and downs in their marriage over the past few years. Needless to say my parents, especially my mother, can hardly believe I’m on my way home, she and my father were afraid I would never return. Oh well, I had made the remark when I left for college that I probably would never come back home to stay. However, I don’t think I implied I wouldn’t even come home for a visit.
I will be teaching first grade right here in my hometown, when school starts in the fall. Mother still can’t believe that I am going to be living at home again. I’m driving through this little town once more, but I don’t see many changes whatsoever. This is the reason I would have bet anyone when I left that I would never come back here to live. Now that I am back, it feels more like home than ever before. I find that distance does make the heart grow fonder, as they say. In my case it certainly has. It was awfully hard to say good-bye to Ruth (my roommate in school), but we promised each other we would stay in touch. We really don’t live that far
from one another. Ruth met the man she’s going to marry in college. She swore she would never live in that little North Georgia town she grew up in again. Her husband to be is from Valdosta, Georgia, but Ruth doesn’t want to live there either. She just might have to make some adjustments though, because Herman’s daddy owns a big farm down there, and he is counting on
Herman to take over for him one day.
I told Ruth she should count her blessings; she and Herman already have their future planned. Bill and I don’t know how long we will have to wait, and if we will even have a future together. Ruth let me know, in no uncertain terms, that she doesn’t plan to live on an old farm for the rest of her life. Of course Ruth hasn’t told Herman that, no sirreeee. Ruth has the notion that
once she is Herman’s wife, she can change all their plans for their future to her liking. Poor girl, I am most certain she’s in for a rude awakening. Goodness, I can’t believe I’m home already. Here comes Mother, running down the drive to meet me. I wonder how long she’s been outside watching for me. Bless her sweet heart, I guess I’d best stop right here. I’m not sure
she will get out of my path.
I stepped out of the car. Mother grabbed me in a big hug. I thought she would surely break my ribs, before she finally released me.
“Oh look at you,” she cried, and she stepped away from me. “Dear, you have grown into a beautiful young woman in these last two years.”
“Yes, Mother, I don’t know about the beautiful, but I have become a woman, that’s for sure. I hope you will keep that in mind,” I laughed. “Where is Daddy, at work I’ll bet?”
“Oh yes, your daddy hasn’t changed a bit, he’s still a workaholic, among
“Well, get into the car, and let’s drive the rest of the way to the house, Mother. I don’t want to have to carry my luggage a mile, it didn’t seem you were going to get out of my way, so I had to stop or hit you. That’s why I stopped this far away, in case you are curious.”
“My goodness,” said Mother, getting into the car, “I didn’t realize how far
we are from the garage. I didn’t know I could still run that fast, or that far, as
a matter of fact.”
When Mother showed me to my room, it was evident that nothing had been moved, or changed, since I have been away. I lifted my bags up onto the bed and began to open the drawers of my dresser and chest.
“May I stay and help you unpack, honey, or would you rather do it alone?”
“I can do it myself, Mother, but you are welcome to sit over there, and we can have a chat, while I put my things away.”
Mary took a seat in the chair by the window, giving a sigh of relief that Suzanna wanted to talk with her. I do hope we can become friends this summer, she thought, I feel this will be our last chance. Dear Lord, don’t let me say the wrong things, please.
I look over at Mother, I can tell something is bothering her already, her brow is wrinkled, and she is pressing her hands together tightly, so tightly her knuckles are turning white. I hope I haven’t already said something to upset her.
There was a long silence, then Mother spoke. “Dear, are you going to teach this coming year, or will you be taking a little rest from your last two years of studying?”
“Oh yes, I will be teaching the first grade right here in town come fall. I don’t need a rest, in fact I’m so excited and anxious to get started I can hardly wait.”
“That is just great, I never dreamed you would come back home to teach. It is such a pleasant surprise for your daddy and me.”
“I can understand why you thought the way you did, Mother, after the hateful things I said about this town. When it got down to the nitty-gritty I realized how much home meant to me, especially after being away so long, without a visit. I assumed I would be welcome to stay here, in this house, in my own room. However, once I earn some money this fall, I will look for a
place of my own, if I’m intruding.”
“It sure is your home honey, and you could never be an intruder in this house, you surely know you are more than welcome to stay here for the rest of your life. You don’t know how happy this makes me, for you to want to live with us again!” exclaimed Mother.
“It will be all right with Daddy too, I hope?”
“Sure, he will be pleasantly surprised, but it definitely will be all right with him.”
Mother excused herself to go get the evening meal started. I finished unpacking and went over to sit in the window seat. I look out over the lawn, and beautifully kept yard, just the way I have done so many times before. Mother is still a puzzle to me; she seems to always be uptight, and nervous as a cat. I can’t help but think that Daddy makes her this way. I know Mother is just
a poor little farm girl, from Alabama, and I doubt if she even has a high school diploma. I’m most sure that’s the reason Mother humors Daddy, and lets him always have the last word. I believe Mother feels inferior, and this intimidates her. I’m not sure my daddy is even aware of this, however. I will just have to insist that Mother speak up to Daddy. I must prove to Mother that she is as important, and as intelligent as my father. She just needs someone to boost her confidence.
I descended the stairs, and headed for the kitchen, to see if I could help Mother fix our meal, when I heard my father drive up. I ran to the backdoor to meet him. I threw my arms around his neck and hugged him tightly. Daddy just stood there, with his briefcase in one hand, the newspaper in the other. He froze in his tracks, giving Mother a strange look, as if to say, please do something. Mother walked over and took the paper, and the briefcase from his hands, there was nothing he could do then but return my hug. I notice how red Daddy’s face becomes, and how loose his hug feels, this gives me the feeling that Daddy isn’t all that glad to see me.
“Guess what, Frank, Suzanna is going to teach first grade, right here at home when school starts,” said Mother.
“Now that’s what I call good news, little girl, I’m so glad you decided to come back home.”
I feel my face get warm, I’ve got to tell him, I’m too old to be called that pet name anymore.
* * *
Daddy saw the blood rush to my face, and he said, “Now what did I say that I shouldn’t have, for goodness’ sake, Suzanna, your face is on fire.”
“Daddy, you have to stop calling me your pet name, little girl, you have to be aware by now, I’m a woman. Why, I’m twenty-three years old.”
“Where did the years go, are you sure you are that old, child?”
“Yes I’m sure,” I laughed, “and you can’t exchange little girl, for child either. Why can’t we just make it simple, Daddy, and you just call me Suzanna, after all that is the name you and Mother gave me.”
“That sounds like a winner, but you do realize, I probably will slip up ever now and again, don’t you?”
“Okay, Daddy, just make sure you don’t slip out in public.”
After I helped Mother clean the kitchen, I decided to run over and visit with Janet for a while. I can hardly wait to see Janet again. I wonder how she looks now, if she has changed as much as I feel I have. It seems it’s been a lot longer than two years since we’ve talked face to face.
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