“Everyone must leave something behind when he dies, my grandfather said. A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made. Or a garden planted. Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die, and when people look at that tree or that flower you planted, you’re there.
It doesn’t matter what you do, he said, so long as you change something from the way it was before you touched it into something that’s like you after you take your hands away. The difference between the man who just cuts lawns and a real gardener is in the touching, he said. The lawn-cutter might just as well not have been there at all; the gardener will be there a lifetime.”
I bet your all wondering what the hell the title of this blog even means right? I’ll tell you. It’s a phrase my grandfather says whenever something goes array or something just doesn’t add up or make sense, which in his case is 93% of the time. I’ve carried this saying with me everywhere I go and have always found myself repeating it whenever something goes crazy in my life.
This past weekend was his 80th birthday. We had family from all over come to visit us here in Maine where the water is crystal blue and the leaves change from green to many shades of orange and red. He’s slowly making his way up to heaven we realize, as does he. One foot basically in the doorway as he is hesitating to continue forward. With tears in our eyes we managed smiles and laughter during this weekend as he came out to spend his remaining energy with us all.
He might’ve not always been well liked; he was a BG General after all. He flew the military planes and took photos while he was up in the air. I remember seeing photos all around the house when I was little, never actually knowing what they were or what the hell I was even looking at. He always had famous tall tales of the men he encountered, the many dinners and awards he received for his acts of courage and his radiance as a military man, husband, father and grandfather. He might’ve had a strong suit, maybe even a firm hand and gaze, but it always changed when he was around me. I would get a dollar for combing his hair which he wanted almost everyday. I would put close pins up by his ears to pretend he was getting a facial, he would laugh and say “Good job kiddo.” He would always buy donut holes with the rainbow sprinkles, and have the Saturday morning cartoons ready. The boat he had bought when I was born was named “SUNNY V” after me and the countless tractor rides through the meadows and woods will forever be a memory deep in my heart.
He has helped me in so many ways growing up, always been a grandfather I could count on and confide in and always wanted the best for me and his family. As he grew older his perceptions changed as he became softer and even more enjoyable. Sometimes he can be harsh and unbearable, but among the sours always comes the sweets, for he always apologies. Seeing him now from the man he used to be, seeing how much a person can change. How much a person can grow. He’s not who he was, he has forgiven many things, things that people thought he would take to the grave with him. I guess in his final days here he teaches me something everyday. Let go of what you can not control and take whatever comes. Don’t hang on to hate and each day always tell the ones you love, how much they mean to you and thank them for being there and for loving you back. This is what I have learned and what I know. I smile at him as I kiss his cheek goodnight always telling him how much I truly love him and always will, with this a single tear rolls down his cheek and he smiles before he goes to sleep and I smile as I close the door.
“His grandfather had often told him that he tried too hard to move trees when a wiser man would walk around them.”