Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Love of Family

A long time ago, when I was around five years old, my maternal grandfather would take me with him to visit his father, my maternal great grandfather. I remember fragments of the visits. The location and the layout of the house. The long steps up to the back porch that lead into the kitchen - dining area. The big tree that covered most of the backyard and a hedgerow that separated the yard from the railroad tracks behind them. The house has been gone for a very long time. I remember when he passed away, my grandfather holding me up in his arm so I could see into the casket. He pointed out the small cut on his forehead where he had hit his head when the massive heart attack hit and his head had struck the corner of the kitchen table. My grandfather found him lying on the floor of the kitchen in a small pool of blood. I was barely 6 when I went to the funeral. I may not have understood exactly what was going on, but I knew my grandfather was deeply upset.

One visit to my great grandfather's house stands out more than any other. He had lived alone for about five years after my great grandmother had passed away. I never knew her or saw a picture of her till recently, when cleaning out my grandfather's house. My mother helped care for during her illness as she had with seemingly everyone. She passed away in March of 1965, the month I was born. Since I was adopted in July of that year, she didn't even know I was on the way, frankly neither did my parents. On this visit, My grandfather and I made our way up the steep back steps and into the kitchen. I gave him a hug then stood near my grandfather as he sat down at the table with him to "chew the fat'" awhile. I remember wandering around the corner into the dark living room. You could barely make out the furniture in the room and it bright and sunny outside. I never remember being there when the drapes were pulled back. As my eyes adjusted, I moved around, touching the sofa, the chairs and getting a feel for the place. I found myself by a window with the smallest amount of light was coming through. I could see bookshelves near the white brick fireplace, tucked in the corner, filled with books and knickknacks. Being the curious lad I was, I had to look and touch. I remember reaching up above my little five year old head for something, when I noticed a lady standing near me. I hadn't seen anyone when I entered the room. She was petite, dressed in what appeared to be black or some dark color, with her grey hair pulled into a bun. I wasn't afraid or even startled. I looked at her and she at me. I don't remember either of us saying a word to the other. She reached out to the same thing I was reaching for and I seemed to understand I was too young for it. I seemed okay with that and moved on. I walked toward the fireplace and she stepped back. I spotted something on the mantle, though I have no idea now what was there,continued on my exploring down that wall till I was back at the kitchen doorway. I looked back, expecting her to follow me in and say hello to my grandfather. I looked back and couldn't see her. I took up my place beside him, still waiting for her to join us, but she never did. Neither my great grandfather nor my grandfather ever called for her to join them or gave a hint anyone else but us three were in the house.

The picture we found of my great grandmother was the same lady that I had seen in the living room that day, though she had passed away before I was born. I think she was watching over me to make sure I didn't injure myself that day, by pulling something off the shelf and onto my head. I've never seen her before or since. But it's nice to know I met my great grandmother after all.

1 comment:

A Lewis said...

Dave, Dave,'ve outdone yourself, at least in my opinion. I love these kinds of stories. The depth, the history, the strong powerful memories in our hearts and minds. I have many, myself. Thanks so much for sharing.

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