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I am a pencil in the hand of a writing God who is sending a love letter to the world. -Mother Teresa

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Granddaughter's Big Day

Even though these pictures have
nothing to do with this story,
I just couldn't wait to put them up!

Monday I went to the post office with
my friend & was pleasantly surprised
to find that this is what the P. O. Boxes
look like! They're so old, but people
still use them.
I wish mine looked like that! 

This story has a couple of sections 
that I adapted from my journals, 
so I thought it would be appropriate for the blog. :)
I wrote it for a creative writing class that I took in college.

The Granddaughter's Big Day 
      Walking down the aisle, I don't fully take in the scene of red carpet and padded pews. Normally I'd admire the flower arrangements, but today I don't notice any. Instead, I'm beginning to comprehend the reality and finality of it all. I manage to keep the tears from falling from my honey-brown eyes as I notice the gathering of family and close friends and then look straight ahead towards the altar, focusing on the man I love. I admire his blue eyes rimmed with glasses, his trimmed white beard, and most of all his child-like grin.
      All eyes are not on me--and I'm glad. I slip into a pew, sitting beside my older sister, Kristi. Moisture continues to fill my eyes until they can hold no more, and the tears silently make their way down my cheeks. I don't bother wiping them away; I'm surprised I've kept them in this long.
      I look again at the man I love, or rather just a picture of him. That's all I will ever see of him from now on. Pictures. I have a picture now in my mind of just a few weeks earlier--the last time I saw him….
      He'd greeted me at the brown swinging doors to their basement. With his arms open wide and a twinkle in his eye, he had said with a smile, “Come 'ere and gimme a big squeeze.” Feeling as special as I'd always been told I was, I gladly consented. What if I bring pain to his nearly ninety-year-old body? I remember asking myself. But his old body surprised me by feeling thick and firm as I wrapped my arms around him and my hands pressed against the back of his soft, thin shirt. I hadn't seen him in such good health since long before Thanksgiving.
      After our hug, I sat at the card table with my aunt and grandmother in the spacious, dimly lit room. They pointed out that Grandpa is good at appearing to be reading while in fact being asleep. I glanced at him slumping comfortably on the love-seat in his worn, flannel shirt and khaki pants with suspenders--book open in hand. Eyes closed. I didn't wake him to say goodbye; instead, I took a mental snapshot of his amusing posture and left…
      The worship leader's strong baritone voice finishes “Amazing Grace,” and I take a deep breath. On cue I walk to the wooden stage which my black high-heels clop across, filling the solemn silence until I stop in front of the metal podium. My sister stands beside me and describes the highlights of a typical visit spent with this great man:
      “He and Grandma would take me on walks…”
      They took me on walks, tooI once jumped over a puddle and caused a small uproar among them as they saw me land an inch above it--one arm rescued me from getting mud all over myself. I instead got it only on that hand.    
      “…I remember the early-morning feeling when I'd wake up and hear them in the kitchen….”
      I look down as she says this because it's one of my favorite memories--something so ordinary that it's taken for granted until it's gone.
      “…It was always so calm and quiet--no air conditioner running--and I'd always smell coffee.” Here, Kristi smiles and breathes in as if she can smell it this very moment. She continues, “I don't drink it very often, but I've been known to make a cup just for the smell.
      “I usually wanted oatmeal for breakfast because Grandpa always made it just right...with raisins, brown sugar, and milk. I loved washing dishes back then and always got to do that at their house….” 
      Returning my gaze to my sister as I listen, I smile at how our experiences differ here. They always picked on me about never doing the dishes.
      “…Playing cards and dominos was fun, too, but as I got older, looking at all the photo albums was my favorite thing.  I've never known anybody with as many photo albums as Grandpa!”
      I force myself not to let my mind wonder to all of my favorite pictures in his albums. 
      “…Looking at pictures from his and Grandma's trips instilled in me an appreciation for this beautiful country. I realize more and more that a lot of who I am is because of Grandpa.”
      She signals to the sound guy that she's done speaking. Getting nervous, I blink back the tears and look down at my notes, hoping everything goes as smoothly for me as it did for her. The music begins, and the words sung by her soothing, soprano voice help the family recall the man who is to some “Gramps,” to others “Dad,” and to one “Husband.” The lyrics remind them of the simplicity in the things he loved. I join her in singing the first song I've ever sung for a funeral.
      Then it's my turn to speak.
      Standing before my grieving family, I take on the responsibility of bringing some closure to them. I rustle the pages in front of me, thinking of my brother who will try celebrating his twenty-fifth birthday tomorrow. Looking at my notes to avoid anymore eye contact, I tell my story about Grandpa….
      He had insisted that Grandma stop. She then insisted that he remove her hat from his head. That was an understandable request since the hat was pink and he was going out in public. “I don't understand why you like to wear that old thing anyway,” she said questioningly.
      “It makes me feel like I'm in the shade,” he explained.
      I, who had been quietly observing everything from the backseat, let out a laugh at that remark. The wide brim did indeed create a bit of shade.
      He removed the hat, slowly unbuckled his seatbelt with a click, and opened the heavy door. As he got out and walked to his destination of looking at campers that were for sale on the side of the road, his wife noticed a problem. “Meggie,” she strained her weak voice in order to speak loudly enough for me to hear. “Go catch that man and hook his suspenders before his pants fall down!” Sensing the urgency, I rush out of the car--no time for laughing. I run towards him noticing that one side is hooked and it's no real emergency, but I continue to hurry. After stopping him, I finally break into out-of-breath laughter. He's a little startled and confused at first but waits patiently as I finish fastening the strap. When I leave him with his “shopping,” he goes on as if nothing had happened. I hop back into the backseat and close the door with a thud to watch him from the car window…. 
      The memory fades from my mind and, staring at the red carpet speckled with stitches of charcoal black, I remember where I am. I had chosen that story from my journal in order to make myself laugh so that I could continue through the next sad song without crying.
      Even when I chose that story, I hadn't known just how overwhelming the emotion of this day would be at this moment. But as I spoke I realized that this was a big day: The day I had a clear view of my oldest brother's strong face--red, puffy, and wet with tears. The day my father gripped my small hand in his, grasping it longer than he ever had, as if his only strength at that moment was coming from me. This was the day I walked into my grandfather's funeral.

Me with Grandpa,
looking at one of his photo albums in his chair.
(This picture was in my sister's scrapbook, that's why it's shaped the way it is.)

1 comment:

  1. This one mad me cry from the beginning! I still have the fondest memories of my dear favorite young-at-heart man. I honestly don't remember much from his funeral. (Too many tears clouded my memory... plus I think I subconsciously block out painful memories)... but I do recall two things.
    Number one: my father looked so sad, & tears puddled in his eyes, but they never seemed to fall, as though he was willing them not to fall.
    (this grandfather was my dad's dad)
    Number two: the funeral attendant handed me my grandfather's US flag from his coffin at the graveside service. My papa was in the Navy.