There is an unwritten rule somewhere, although, it’s rarely followed our wishes. The rule is Moms are not supposed to get sick or leave. Dads are supposed to know everything. They’re never supposed to leave. This is a rule.
There is a rule about our grandparents too, like Grandma and Grandpa. They are supposed to have hands with a touch that no one ever forgets.
And their eyes and the way they speak or the way they smile; there is something so powerful about them. There is something about the way the room changes as soon as they walk in.
In fairness, I have to say that I’ve never met either of my Grandfathers. They both died before I was born. I only know stories about them. Unfortunately, the stories have faded over the years. There is however, something timeless about these memories. There is something preserved in my mind about the imaginations I’ve had about meeting either of my Grandfathers and sitting with them somewhere, like say, at the edge of a pond, fishing with them.
I never heard their voices but I’ve imagined the way they speak. I’ve never seen them smile either but I’ve imagined their smiles as well. I imagine the way they’d smile would be enough to stop pain or settle a young boy’s worry. In fact, I’m sure of this.
I figure they knew more than I could possibly imagine. I figure they could tell me about the world before the wars. I imagined they could tell me about the great writers of their time or what it was like to live through The Great Depression and still know how to smile.
I always wished I knew what it was like to sit across from either of my Grandfathers. It would have been nice to invite them over.
I have memories of my family that reach to the days of way back. I remember them when they were younger. And this is a great thing about memories. Memories are ageless. Memories are absolutely timeless. They are framed moments that cannot and will never change for all of eternity.
I sometimes think about a spring day when I was a young boy. This is a memory from the opening day of baseball season. The year had to be somewhere around 1978 or 79. I was somewhere around the age of 6 or maybe 7.
The old man had on a big pair of sunglasses. His hair was slightly long and somewhat shaggy. He had sideburns. I remember. He wore an old, ratted gray sweatshirt, which he loved, and a pair of jeans that fit the description of fashion in the late 70’s.
I was so small then. He was the biggest thing I knew, my Father, The Old Man, or Pop, as I called him.
We were in an empty field just north of the ball fields. The town I lived in was still pretty young at the time. I suppose everything was young. Everything was so new to me then. . .
I can remember the way The Old Man threw the baseball to me. He posed slowly so I could see his form as well as notice when the ball left his hand.
This is my first memory of ever having a catch with him.
There were no wars going on at the time; at least, there were none that I knew of. There was nothing so heavy. There was a different way people interacted back then. We said things like, “Hello,” and “Good morning,” to people back then. Life was simpler then. There was no social media and there were no reasons to be insulted, unlike now, which is absolutely the thing that’s happening with social media, insults, and everyone being offended.
I remember Sundays in my town. People went to Church and said things to each other like, “Peace be with you,” and they’d answer one another with the words, “And also with you.” There is something so beautiful and wholesome about this. More accurately, there is something so timeless about this memory. There is something bitter and sweet, and yet painful too because age has stepped in. Time came between us. Moms aged and Dads grew old. People pass. And such is life.
I have this memory of a man. He passed just the other day. His eyes were as blue as they come. His smile was as generous as ever. This man had seen so much of the world. He saw the world before the changes of technology.
He saw war times and good times. He understood what it took to build and create. His hands were strong as ever. This man walked the Earth for 96 years and grateful to say, I was able to know him. I am grateful to say that I will keep his memory as ageless as can be because to me, his memory is priceless.
There is a rule somewhere that says people this amazing are not allowed to leave. I suppose they never do. I suppose they stay with us in such a way. They stay in our hearts and in our memory. And there are times that cannot be explained when a breeze comes or an idea hits us.
There are times when loved ones that have left the Earth find ways to reach out to us and let us know. I suppose when the signs we see (or feel) come along; I imagine this is them saying, “I’m right here. So don’t be sad. I can see things more clearly now than you could possibly imagine. And don’t worry. I won’t ever leave you. I’ll be right here, cheering you on and supporting you when you need it. Just believe in me. That’s all you need to do.”
I suppose signs like this are their way of saying, “I know that you are sad and I know there is nothing anyone can say right now. I know that you miss seeing me and I miss seeing you that way too. But please, just know that I am here and I will always be with you. I will never go too far and I will always send you a sign when you need it most.” I think this is their way of saying, “I love you too,” and “I’m proud of you.” This is them telling us, “Just look for me and you’ll find me whenever you choose.”
There is thing about grandparents like Grandma and Grandpa or whichever terms you call them. There is a sense of understanding to them because they’ve lived so many years. They’ve seen so many things. And the reason why they smile so brightly and why their smile is so healing is because grandparents know that nothing else is really important. Age comes for us all. Time touches everyone. And there’s only so much time left.
So, please, allow me this honor to say “Hello,” or “Good morning” and “Peace be with you,” because this is the best thing I can do to show my love. And these are some of the lessons I have learned from some of the greatest people in my life.
Sleep well . . .