Why is Phoenix taking the long trip to town?

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Phoenix Jackson endures a long trip to town and perseveres through many trials along the journey in order to obtain medicine for her grandson, who remains at home.

When she arrives at the clinic, the nurse recognizes her as a regular patron. Two to three years prior, Phoenix's grandson swallowed lye, which left him with a painfully scarred throat. Phoenix says that periodically, his throat begins to swell up, leaving him unable to swallow. The medicine which she obtains at the clinic helps alleviate his symptoms. Since they are the "only two left in the world," it has fallen to Phoenix to obtain treatment that will help her grandson, since he is "not able to help himself."

Phoenix loves her grandson dearly, so even though she comments aloud that "I too old. I the oldest people I ever know," she also knows that there is no one else to help her grandson. Thus, she endures a strenuous walk and seemingly dangerous obstacles (thorns, barbed wire fences, the possibility of snakes, a man with a gun) in her quest to help him.

The story shows the power of a sacrificial love in Phoenix Jackson's dutiful return to town to obtain help for the grandson, who is dependent on her efforts.

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