5 June 2002
from This is a Broken World, Dr. Nbook 37
It's storming again outside. Even though it's only 9h00, it's already dark, just like it was in the winter. I look out the window, and I only see a reflection of the room. I can hear the thunder outside, rumbling its little heart out.
It reminds me of an image from my past. I remember Granddaddy sitting on the porch during the storms. He would just sit out there, mesmerized by the storm. I wonder what he thought about, if he used that time to think. Maybe he thought about his past. Images from his childhood would come back to him. From early adulthood, from meeting Grandmother. She told me about it once. Granddaddy and a friend hitchhiked from Virginia to Georgia, where his friend's sister (and his cousin, I might add) was living with a friend of hers. There they were, in the dead of the night, knocking on the door. Granddaddy's cousin didn't answer--her friend did. She was in her nightclothes and her hair was in rollers, but that woman would eventually become my grandmother.
Maybe he thought about life on the farm, then the rodeo, where he hurt his leg from the bull. Maybe he remembered the childhoods of Jennifer and Cheryl, and of Mark; how their mothers were ultrastrict and then some about letting them see their dads (Uncle Pat and my dad; Granddaddy's only children). And when Jennifer and Cheryl were taken by their mom in... somewhere. I can imagine how he felt. Trying to hunt for his only (at the time) granddaughters. They were finally found, though, in Virginia.
And he would remember Mark's visits as well. After Dad went to Korea, Grandmother and Granddaddy had gotten Dad's custody rights, so when Mark would normally see Dad, he would see his grandparents. Oh, how Mark loved those visits! He never wanted to leave, but he had to.
Granddaddy would have remembered Dad's marriage in Korea to my mom, and the early days of Jeffrey and me. He would know stuff about us that Jeffrey and I would never remember unless we were to ask. He would remember introducing me to ice cream and gravy (not together...I'm that that bizarre). He would remember times in Florida, like the time I fell out of the boat seat, despite all the straps. He would remember details of his life that now I would never know.
Yes, he probably sat there during summer storms of the last five years of his life (since their hourse was built, finally, something during my lifetime), and he probably thought of his entire past, and perhaps curiosities of his future. Sometimes I would sit there in the rocking chair next to his, or I would sit in the swing, and I would just sit there, maybe talk. Sometimes I wanted to just run out into the rain and play under the ultimate sprinkler, but I rarely did. Perhaps watching Granddaddy, mesmerized by the storm, was what stopped me from doing that.
As an image, the storm was perfect. The rain would beat down perfectly--on the single large tree at the edge of the yard, on the three smaller pear trees in front of the porch, on the roof, even on the edges of the porch. These were natural objects, or if not natural, stationary. Storms help to see this world beyond his porch in a different way. To throw myself in the rain, simply for folly pleasure, seemed to be an unspoken-of evil. No way would I disturb this peace for him.
He died on October 6, 1998, within two months of my sixth-grade year and just under a month after I befriended you, Dr. Nbook. It wasn't as you picture many people dying, just slipping away into the night. It was during the school day, and just like always, I was the last in the immediate family to find out. (Jeffrey was still in elementary school at the time and found out earlier; he had gone to the hospital with Grandmother and was still there when I came home and found out.) It seemed like my writing has been one of my main cushions, and Granddaddy was another. The two were together for a month when I lost one. Ever since his death, I've been relying on my writing to help comfort me. Sometimes I wonder what my life would be like if he was still alive today. It seems as if I needed him the most after his death, when life in itself did a sensational job of tangling itself up. Maybe I would be less curious about everything. I would have a family member to whom I was already close.
Even in his last months, I could still fit in his lap, where he would give me a piece of candy from his tobacco box (he hid it there) and I would tell him about my day. I would probably still do that today. In a way, though, now that I still am thinking about it, I do. I remember when the whole family was at Grandmother's right after he died. We were all sitting down, but everyone avoided Granddaddy's chair, like some spirit was exuding from it. Now I sit there. Really. Jeffrey and I have inherited some part of him. I sit in Granddaddy's chair in the living room and talk to Grandmother, and it's almost like I'm in Granddaddy's lap again, whether I'm curled up or stretched out. Jeffrey sits in his chair at the table, long ago dubbed "The Boss Chair". Yes, he was the boss. The family boss.
Thinking about Granddaddy now reminds me of a story we read in Mrs. [Chambers'] class, "All the Years of Her Life", where Albert's mother remembers her past as she drinks her nightly cup of tea. The storms, being mesmerized, were Granddaddy's cups of tea. And I remember when Albert watches his mother drink the tea. I think that I finally grew up as I watched Granddaddy and the storms, just like Albert and his mother's tea.
And thinking about the person I am now, I wish that... I wish that I was that same person then. I don't know when exactly I grew up into a fresh perspective during all this, but I wish I could have really realized this during my youth. I also wish I had a better memory in those days, so that I could remember those days with Granddaddy more vividly, because I was just a child then. I couldn't have known better then.
Or could I have?
Now, however, I don't wish I was that person. Sometimes I don't like the person I am now, but I embrace it. This is the only person I have, and I have to learn from what I experience--even from the bad. Some people can't take this as well, which I find saddening. Live it up a little.
This entry, among others, reminds me that it's okay to be childlike on the inside. Older, wiser (I hope) me can spot things wrong with this entry, grammar-wise and style-wise, but it reflects the thoughts of fifteen-year-old me. I wouldn't change a thing.