Monday, November 9, 2009

Eternal Autumn



My grandfather lives in eternal autumn. He is leaves crunching underfoot. Windfall apples and pears among the grasses. Orange and yellow and red and brown. The golden light of the October sun.

I sit on his lap reading Longfellow from a marble-bound volume. This is the forest primeval. The whispering pines and the hemlocks. He is sandpaper cheeks. Old Spice and Lectric Shave. Horn-rimmed glasses. A favored pink shirt. A four-colored pen. His eyes are blue. His hair still blond. His hand is strong. His touch is gentle. His teeth are all his own.

We kneel together in flickering shadows. He is frankincense and candle wax. Wood worn smooth and lemon oil. Fish on Friday and Saturday Night Suppers. Paternosters and Ave Marias. A well-thumbed missal in Bible-black leather. Sanctus, Sanctus, Dominus Deus. He is a firm handshake. A sturdy hymn. A tweed overcoat and matching hat. Ite, missa est. Deo Gratias.

I watch him tend his garden. He is tomato vines and butter-beans. Summer squash and sugar snaps. Petunias, hydrangeas and geraniums. Tiger Lily and Butterfly Bush. From out of the earth he has called them. He calls each one by name.

By a soft light on the porch he sits. I hear the whispered rustle of his paper. The kitchen is bright with activity. Nana gossips and chides, directs and instructs. We are running water and clattering silverware. The percolator coughs and sputters. I stack the dishes one by one. We chatter and tidy. We laugh out loud. What does he make of us?

I half-carry him to his favorite chair. He is scars and bones. His skin is translucent. His eyes are clear. His face is set. His smile is thin. I set out soup and sandwiches. We pretend he is not dying.

He lived the life he chose. This was the epitaph my great-uncle gave my grandfather. He lived the life he chose. I had never met him before. I never saw him again. But clearly the two men were brothers. Their eyes were clear and blue. They did not waste a word. They lived the lives they chose.

I loved my grandfather and he loved me. I knew him as well as any boy of 15 knows a man of 72, which is to say, not very. But we made the most of the time we had, and that is enough. He was bear-hugs and still waters. He was a warm spot by the kitchen pot-belly. He was Poor Richard's Almanack. He laughed with his eyes. He lived the life he chose.

No one ever really dies, of course. The people we have loved do not pass away, they pass within, for truly love never fails. My grandfather is beyond time now. He is everywhere he ever was. He is places he had never been, and all at once. He lives in my father. He lives in my heart. He lives in my son who bears his name. And he lives in eternal autumn. That is enough.

Respectfully Yours,

Cricket




36 comments:

Suldog said...

How good was this? My eyes were tearing about a man I never knew. Magnificent. Of course, I see my grandfathers, in part, in your words. Thank you for that sight.

Linda said...

What a well-written post. Such obviously personal memories that resonate with all of us lucky enough to remember our grandparents.

Just loved this.

lime said...

wow, just wow. that is a beautiful piece of writing in honor of your grandfather. thank you for introducing him to us and allowing us to peek in a bit on his life through the window of your heart.

welcome to the neighborhood.

Thumbelina said...

Wow from me too. Beautiful testimony to your relationship with your grandfather. Reminded me of my dad. Thank you for sharing that.

Over from Jim's. Glad you started up. I'll be back. Welcome. :)

Jazz said...

What a stunning and beautiful tribute. I wish I could write as well about my loved ones.

Michelle H. said...

OMG! Where have you've been hiding? That was awe-inspiring.

Eddie Bluelights said...

Very moving - over from Suldog and signed up. See ya ~ Eddie

Fat, frumpy and fifty... said...

here from Jim's!! and what a lovely post, very poignant and beautiful words!!

saz aka FFF

Hilary said...

What an absolutely beautiful tribute to your grandfather. You have such a wonderful gift of words. Thank you, Suldog for pointing the way here. :)

Elizabeth Bradley said...

I am glad I visited, your words pay tribute to your grandfather in such a lyrical, but down to earth manner.

Cricket said...

Thanks to all for your welcoming words and kind praise. Special thanks to Suldog for his encouragement.

Respectfully Yours,
Cricket

Buck said...

Well done... sheer poetry. I know we ALL would like to be remembered in such a beautiful way.

Char said...

Absolute beauty in these words and the tribute to your grandfather. Thanks to Suldog. Will look forward to new poswts.

Sandi McBride said...

That was pure beauty. It brought my grandfather to me as clearly as the last time I saw him 35 years ago. Thank you for the memory.
Sandi

Ananda girl said...

A thing of love and beauty Cricket! I will be back.

(Yeah... I'm from Jim's too.)

FHB said...

Killer! I loved that.

Anali said...

I'm here via Suldog and so glad that I stopped by. What a magnificent piece of writing. Although this post was without pictures, you showed us everything.

Sniffles and Smiles said...

Absolutely exquisite writing, Cricket...you are not only an artist, but also a poet...It is an honor to meet you! I am looking forward to reading more of your incredible writing! Hugs, Janine

Sarah said...

What a beautiful tribute...I've enjoyed reading your words so far and will be back soon!

Sarah

The Things We Carried said...

Here from Hilary's POTW. Wow, this was beautiful writing! Glad to have met you!

Protege said...

Congratulation on your POTW win. Well deserved! You brought out the essence of your memories.
I barely knew my grandfather either (neither of them). They both passed away before I was ten.
Lovely writing,
Zuzana

gaelikaa said...

A very nice post. Congrats on POTW.

Gaston Studio said...

Just plain beautiful! Congrats on POTW from Hilary! Well chosen.

Jane

Sandi McBride said...

Congratulations on Post of the Week!
Sandi

smiles4u said...

Very beautiful. So deserving of POTW. Congratulations!

Brian Miller said...

beautiful. congrats on the POTW!

Cricket said...

Hilary - Thank you very much. I am honored.

Sandi - Special thanks for spelling out "post of the week" and clearing up my confusion. I am still learning.

Thanks to all for your kind comments.

Respectfully Yours,

Cricket

Dianne said...

this is stunning writing
I feel this way about my Nana
I especially love the concept of our loved ones being everywhere we are, being within us
I could not articulate the emotions as wonderfully as you have
I am so glad I came here from Hilary's place

Moannie said...

Congratulations on your POTW mention for this very moving, and beautifully written post.
Superb.

J said...

What a wonderful and eloquent post, I'm off to check out the rest of your prose.

blunoz said...

That was spectacularly well-written. Bravo! What an amazing and insightful tribute. Congrats on POTW, but no offense to Hilary - this post deserves more than just POTW. Is there a Pulitzer for blog posts?

Frank Baron said...

A wonderfully-written paean to a good and lucky man. You were both blessed.

LadyFi said...

This is so beautiful and poignant. A lovely heart-felt tribute.

And now.. pass me the tissues please!

Dave said...

You write wonderful yarns Cricket. Well done! - Dave

ellen abbott said...

A wonderful portrait. Your love shines through.

Pseudo said...

Beautiful post. Thank-you for linking it in your interview.