on grandpa, beauty and watermelons
I was six when my grandfather died. I have two memories of him.
One, when I was running down my grandmother’s hallway while he was holding a cigar. I ran right into it and wear the scar near my scapula today, though it looks more like a permanent hickey. The other is of him in the coffin where I would try to get in with him to the horror of my family standing behind me.
Surely he made an impact beyond the physical scar such that I would desire to search for warmth next to his lifeless body. Though, every story I was fed was that he was a raging, wife-beating, philandering, gambling alcoholic. So, what did my child self see in him and love?
I had an aunt that died from complications of breast cancer when I was in my 20’s. I took my oldest son with me to the funeral home to drop off pamphlets for the wake. He was four at the time. Her son and several of her siblings were in the room with her, before the wake, sitting nearby her coffin. When I walked in to hug them my son walked up to her coffin to look at her. I watched him, unsure of how he would respond, a little on edge. He stared at her for an entire minute without moving.
He turned around, looked at me and smiling said, “She’s beautiful”. Everyone in the room started crying. I’ll never understand the beauty he saw from her lifeless body but believe we all felt blessed to witness the purity of his sight.
I remember living next to a deserted farm when I was seven. We were homeless but I can twist that and call us nomads, campers or hippies, whatever makes me feel good. I’ll go with hippies. It feels much more colorful and fun.
I remember saving the watermelon seeds from those we had eaten and planting them in a long neat row nearby the homemade aluminum shack where we slept. I had no idea what I was doing but I really loved watermelon and was hopeful I’d grow one in a few days.
I watered them everyday and nothing happened. After a few weeks, when I was ready to give up, baby leaves seemed to sprout out of the ground overnight. I was ecstatic and disappointed. The water was working but it was taking sooooo long.
My mom and I had to run away from this place eventually. As the cab drove away I stared out the back window at the baby leaves that had become baby vines, until they disappeared. I had tears of sorrow for an expected harvest I would never see.
To this day, I feel a loss at not remembering what it is I loved about a man that everyone hated. Guessing that from my vantage point I probably in innocence only saw his seedling spirit.
Children often see the seedlings while adults often see twisted vines and weeds.
Let not the vines and weeds of others or ourselves harden our hearts.
What am I grateful for?
- A greater appreciation for the inborn desire we have to create life. Wonderment in the sustenance of all forms brought forth.
- A remembrance of the beauty in seeing other’s through a child’s eyes.
- Understanding the impact of abandoning a seedling. Wonderment that in all conditions it can still thrive to exist in the form it was intended.
- Acknowledgement of the purposefulness required to filter through eyes of judgement, built from pain, to find inherent beauty in all of life.
~ my pollyanna fairy is still alive ~