Authors: Patrice Johnson
by Patrice Wade-Johnson
In Memory of
Marion Germany Lawrence
William âSonny' Lewis
This book is fruit from seeds they planted
Copyright Â© 2003, 2005 by Patrice Wade-Johnson
Words with Wings Publishing Company
PO Box 17141
Pittsburgh, PA 15235
This novel is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in reviews or articles.
Scriptures taken from the New King James Version.
Copyright Â© 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.
Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Printed in the United States of America
Library of Congress Control Number 2005908651
1. African American
2. Fiction-General/Christian Contemporary
I thank God for His anointing and bountiful blessings.
“Delight yourself in the Lord and
He will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4
A very special thank you to all the Women's Ministries and Book
Clubs that welcomed me and spread the word
My Sanctuary of Praise family
â “The prayers of the righteous
availeth muchâ¦” I am blessed with a wonderful church family.
â Iron truly does sharpen iron â you are loved and
appreciated. Your ministry has often been my refuge
â You told me I could do anything and now my dreams are
endless. Thank you
â Because you pushed, I continue to move forward.
Denise, Sima, Faithe
â My first book talk â love you all
Angela and Jai
â Thanks for reading the draft!
Rhonda, Nique, Aisha, Nasia
â Listen to voices of wisdom.
â Cary is the best place to think, write and relax â thank you
for the open invitations to your home
â God blessed me with you. Your remarks were priceless.
â My big brother in Christ, my Pastor, my friend. I could
write a book thanking you for everything you have been and done
â Thanks for taking the time to introduce me to Jesus
and to Bible study. True friends give eternal gifts. You are and
you have! You are the angel God sent
â I can't thank you enough for everything. I am blessed
to have you as my best friend! (and agent, photographer, midnight
coffee maker, proof reader, thesaurus, encourager and prayer
partner) Two are definitely much better than one
â You always believed in me. Thanks for teaching me
persistence and endurance. Because of you, I believe I can fly!
Ray and Candice
â The seeds have been planted in you, too. All
you have to do is allow them to bloom
Cover photo â
DeAnna Elaine Wilkerson
Mrs. Mary Saunders and Michaela Flood
Therefore hear the parable of the sower: When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is he who received seed by the wayside. But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles. Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful. But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.
Matthew 13: 18 â 23
As I parked along the dirt road in the cemetery I could hear the singing even with the windows up. I felt numb. “If His eye is on the spa-a-a-rrow, then I know, He is watching o-o-over me” â that was Nana's favorite song. “God,” I sighed, “I don't feel like you're watching me right now and I need you. I can't do this anymore.”
My stomach knotted as my eyes followed Joshua moving through the crowd. He walked to the front row and stood next to the grandmother he had only known for two days. Joshua reached over and held her hand during the prayer.
Staring at the faces of those around the casket, I easily identified Greg's brother. They looked just alike. His sisters resembled their mother. I had avoided all of them at the church. What was there to say?
Joshua stood facing the casket with his back to me. I knew he really didn't hate me, he was angry. My dad had been right, my secret had come back to haunt me. The whispers in my shadow were now screaming. Joshua had had the best of everything, including memories of a loving father. Jason loved him. Greg left him â and me. The moment felt fanatical. I attempted to get out of the car for air, but the door was too heavy. I let the window down and let myself sink down in the seat.
âI have planted seeds of wisdom in you.' Nana's words resonated in my head. What had I learned? Life hurts. I hadn't learned that from wisdom, I learned that from pain. The sparrow had fallen and I wasn't sure God was watching.
My summers during college were spent in Wheeling with my maternal grandmother. Nana told me about the Youth Investment Program at West Virginia University when I was a senior in high school. I applied for a counselor's position during my freshman year at Penn State and looked forward to spending my summers close to Grandma Ida, affectionately called Nana. Even knowing my Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings would be spent at Memorial Park AME Zion Church, I still looked forward to spending my summers in West Virginia.
Ida Pearl Holloway. I loved everything about her and cherished every memory from my visits to Wheeling. By the time I was in high school, only Mom and I were visiting her regularly and Nana was only coming to visit us during the Christmas holiday. It was always evident in the silence between them that my dad didn't particularly care for Nana and I never understood why. Nana was full of love and full of stories. She was a country girl and had a love for life that was contagious. It was absurd that anyone could not love Ida Pearl. Even during the height of his obstinence when he hated everyone, my brother, Noah, still loved Nana.
I remember everything about her. She loved Jean NatÃ© and put it on every morning after her bath. Even her towels smelled like Jean NatÃ©! She had a collection of hats and shoes to match every dress and she meticulously coordinated her outfits, never wearing more than three colors at a time. I only remember her wearing pants twice. Both times she was visiting us and it was bitter cold. Nana even wore sundresses while she worked in her yard because she
said after growing up on a farm she would never wear anything made out of denim again.
When I was sixteen Nana showed me the letters she and Grandpa Booker exchanged during their marriage. For thirty-eight years they wrote each other love letters on Valentine's Day. Nana and Grandpa Booker loved each other second only to the Lord â it was Nana who taught me about love.
I especially remember her stories of the wisdom seeds. She told me the first one when I was five. It was the fall of 1963 and we had been in Wheeling for about a week because Grandpa Booker had died. I found my grandmother sitting in her room and I climbed on the bed, laying my head in her lap.
“Dani,” she whispered.
I answered with my face still in her dress. “Yes Ma'am.”
“Do you know what it means to have joy?”
“Yes Ma'am.” I sat up next to her.
“Well, I'm going to tell you how to have joy forever and I want you to promise me you will remember,” she said braiding my hair. “I always want you to have joy.”
“I promise.” I had no idea of what I was agreeing to.
“Love God with all your heart because He first loved you and died so you could have eternal life.”
“Okay.” I smiled.
“No matter what happens in your life, always remember Jesus loves you. That's a wisdom seed for joy.”
“A wisdom seed?” I squinted turning to look up at her.
“Baby,” she smiled, “a wisdom seed is something someone plants in your heart so it will grow one day.”
“How's it going to grow inside my heart?”
“Because life will water it and when you grow up the
seed will bloom.”
“Like a flower?”
“Just like a pretty flower.” She started singing her favorite song and I sang along with her.
From that day, whenever I was visiting her, or she was visiting us, she made me recite John 3:16 every morning.
For God so loved the world that He gave His
only begotten Son, that whoever believes in
Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
As we were getting dressed, we always sang His Eye Is On The Sparrow. I memorized the scripture and the song because I loved her. It would be years before I would come to understand the significance of what I had committed to memory.
Several years passed before Nana planted the second wisdom seed in my life. It was the spring of 1969 and one of the last times we went to visit Nana as a family. During this particular visit my mom took her second and final stand to my dad. The first was in naming me. My dad named my brothers and wanted to name me Sarah Elizabeth, but my mom would not have it. I am eternally grateful that she insisted my name be Danielle, even if she did tack on Sarah Elizabeth to appease him.
Anyway, my dad had been doing his usual âfuss thing' with Noah, scolding him for acting like a heathen. Mom motioned for us to follow her into the kitchen where Nana was squeezing lemons. Joey and I proceeded out to the back porch because we weren't permitted to sit under adults while they were talking. I sat on the swing by the radio that was holding the window open so I could see my mom and Nana standing at the sink.
“You used to be care free,” Nana said, as Mom filled
the pitcher with water. “I sure do miss her,” Nana continued. “My Judy was a girl who always carried a song in her heart. Then she got married.”
“Mother, you promised we wouldn't talk about this.” Mom was trying to whisper.
Although I was very good at eavesdropping, I had to concentrate because their voices were muddled behind the static on the radio. I wanted to turn it down, except that would have given me away. The secret to good eavesdropping was to make people think you weren't interested in what they were saying.
It was hard to imagine my mother as carefree. She was a dutiful wife who made sure she took care of my dad, the house and us. She was the picture perfect preacher's wife, well dressed and always smiling. At eleven I knew she wasn't carefree and was beginning to wonder if she was happy.
“He never dealt with his own pain,” Nana's voice was raised. “He spent years trying to pretend those things never happened.”
I didn't know what she meant, yet I listened intently.
“Judy!” Dad called Mom from the side of the house where I suspected he had whipped Noah. Joey looked at me and I took his silent cue to keep my mouth shut and stay glued to the swing. Before I had time to think about it, my dad came up the back porch steps pulling Noah by the arm. Sweat was pouring off his face onto his starched white collar. I tried to make eye contact with Noah â he was looking at Joey who was pretending to play a piano and sing along with the Temptations. There was no time to warn Nana or Mom.