Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Michigan :: memorials & snow

My sister's job: to tote dozens of photographs of my grandfather, his life, in her arms, from Austin, Texas to Hillsdale, Michigan. Dozens of photographs emailed from the corners of his life, especially from our aunt Linda, and given to us by the good people at Kinko's.

My sister and I arranged them on two magnetic boards brought over by the funeral home--one full of black and whites, his babyhood, my father's and uncle's babyhood. The other board--my sister and my childhood. So much in the small parts of life, the beginnings. So little with transitions.

And the white cat of my dreams, my grandfather, so to speak, my grandmother's sweet companion. She didn't want to crawl into my lap, despite my antics, but she adores my grandmother.

And well she should, of course.

My favorite photograph of my grandfather was taken in what appears to be Australia--he's got a pipe clenched in his teeth, his knees bent, an expression of sharing and shock as a kangaroo drinks from his coffee mug. It's adorable and sweet, and I'm sorry I don't have a copy to share here.

So much of my grandfather lingers in this house.

The day I found out my grandfather had his second heart attack, I arranged to have a small pine tree sent to my grandmother. I knew he was going home, and I thought maybe it could be planted in the spring, after he was gone, a symbol of his life and strength. The timing, the holidays, included an angel ornament. The tree arrived the morning of the 4th; my grandfather passed away a dozen hours later. A guardian angel.

And I said my grandfather would appreciate all the quiet calamity surrounding his passing--the snow plowing and late start, the fire in our house, and the day after his memorial, he delivered another snow storm, this one strong enough to cancel church (he just may have appreciated that one!).

If you are reading this from a warm place on the globe, enjoy the snow. We're going to have a white Christmas in these parts:

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