Sunday, December 16, 2007

what I expect

This is what I expect in Michigan: my grandparents reading the newspaper beneath dim lamplight, the view of the lake peaceful behind them. I expect to hear my grandfather come humming down the hall, his great paw of a hand on our shoulder, asking if we'd been good this year, telling us that he has been good and handsome besides. My grandmother offering up a plate of cold cuts, warm mustard, a loaf of bread. The teasing sounds of my sister and I, harassing my patient father to no end. After dinner, the sound of Law and Order blaring from the bedroom, my grandfather hard of hearing for so long. Paperback mysteries. Shortbread cookies. The tock of the grandfather clock in the hall. The creak of sofa cushions as we adjust ourselves, reading.

The landscape has changed without my grandfather.

This morning a snowstorm rolled in, my father getting stuck in the driveway, then the road, trying to get to the store for milk. We were cozy but trapped for the morning, his fingers raw and numb from nearly three hours of shoveling. I couldn't see the line of trees across the lake, the snow was so thick. Churches, shops, everything has closed down.

Yesterday was my grandfather's memorial. When we were in the church basement for the luncheon, I thought I had spotted my grandfather, an old man's silvery hair. But it was just one of the singers in the quartet. My grandfather is gone.

It's so hard to get used to that fact. And I feel like this all could be resolved with a simple question: "Can't we just have him back?" Doesn't that seem logical to you?

If I can't imagine his absence, then I cannot imagine what my grandmother must feel as she faces each level of sorrow: the shoes at the bottom of his closet (the snow boots my father borrowed outdoors, his father's rubber boots), the rows of tweed sport coats in the closet, the shape he left on his side of the bed, his voice in the hallway, the ghost of him in old photographs.

When I return, I will give you pictures--show you the beauty of the snow here in Michigan. I love snowstorms, being trapped indoors, especially with books. I'm reading The Painted Veil; my grandmother Netflix'ed the film, and I would rather read the book first, so it is a marathon reading before dinner, hoping to get Maugham's novel done in time for the showing.


ck said...

Why doesn't the world stop turning when we wish it would? Why can't we go back and experience those little things that made life worth living? I hate that no matter what I say, it will not bring back the way you remember your grandpa. And if I say that I know what you are feeling, we both know I didn't know your grandpa and can never really feel your heart ache. I do know that the heartache will slowly subside, but never truly dissappear, and that the way you can keep your grandpa alive is by teaching/doing the things you remember he most loved. A hug to you!

Anonymous said...

you are so lovely-- one thing is for sure: you made your grandfather very proud! I am so sorry for your loss--- sending you gentle energies--