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a quote from my favorite author

“The most solid advice, though, for a writer is this, I think: Try to learn to breathe deeply, really to taste food when you eat, and when you sleep, really to sleep. Try as much as possible to be wholly alive, with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell, and when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough.”

-William Saroyan, The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze

Sunday, March 29, 2015

VINTAGE SLICE #29

March 28, 2011
GOING THROUGH GRANDPA'S HOUSE WITH MOM
Grandpa's bowling pin sits on a table in my workroom


Lost (a revision)

The hardest part wasn’t losing him.
The hardest part was watching Mom lose him.

We walk through
Grandpa’s house together.
Each room filled with emptiness
and memories.
Mom and I search for something to hold on to.

The dining room
holds memories of uncles, aunts, and cousins gathering.
Memories of Lite Brite, Nickelodeon,
and Lamb de Lamb

But these are my memories,
I think.
Beneath this layer of my past,
at the heart of Grandpa’s house,
is another generation’s history. 
A history made of three brothers
and their baby sister, Susan.
My mom.

I think about the memories she must see
in each room we enter.
Stories of her childhood flood my heart.

For Mom, Grandpa’s kitchen
holds memories of dinners crowded around the table,
where she had to snatch up all she wanted
before three older brothers devoured every last crumb.
Memories of visits from Santa, games of cowboys,
and running around pretending to be a horse.

Still searching for something to keep for ourselves,
a tangible piece of Grandpa’s life,
of what he means to us,
I follow Mom up to the attic,
her old bedroom.
 
We find a box filled with cards,
an old telegram—a love note from Grandpa to Grandma,
and pages of Grandpa’s writing—skits, jokes, anecdotes.
These pages hold the secrets
of the writer who lives in my bones. 
I carry the box downstairs.

We head to the garage,
I find a shelf filled with bowling pins—
mementos of Grandpa’s years as manager
of Bleeker’s Bowling Lanes.
I pick one out to take with me.

In the basement, behind Grandpa’s bar,
I find a metal cart for keeping things organized—
a reminder of his practical side.
I wheel it to the stairs and carry it outside.

I gather each of my treasures
and pack them into the car,
realizing Grandpa left me
with much more than his words,
a bowling pin,
and a cart
to hold on to.

He left memories. 
Memories of my past.
Memories of Mom’s childhood.
Memories of a lifetime.

I haven’t lost him,
and neither has Mom.

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