I feel like the roof is coming off my Life House-- so many of the spiritual and familial pillars of my world have left this life this past year. There's left only my parents, one now seemingly fragile layer left between me and eternity.
Goodby for now, Pop-pop. I've been missing you for along time, I think. Although, to be fair, I did the first leaving. In my mind I can hear your gruff voice in prayer, feel that mighty grip-- such agony for the short seconds of a meal's grace-- you did that on purpose, didn't you?. I can hear the teasing, "What-what??", "Hello, Lemuel!", and the head-tilted, sideways grin, waiting to see what did I think of that?? I so much remember your hands. So much. Gnarled and knotted-- strong as a tree, gripping the fabric and stretching it tight, tacks in the corner of your mouth. Tap the hammer to your lips to spit a tack on the tip and tap-whack, fasten the fabric tight to the frame.
"My Pop-pop made that."
I loved to say those words. And still, the men who make me things are the men I love the most.
The smell of glue and fabric and wood dust, Postum with lots of cream, ice cream. Oh how that man loves ice cream! Chocolate, right? Rich chocolate ice cream. Rich as your life.
Oh the richness of the life you led! Oh what you've left me in stories and knowing and history and belonging to something safe and big and strong! I will tell my stories of you all my life and even though they never knew you, they will know of you.
The rocks you dug up from the corn field and laid for the foundation of the house you built for your bride, where my mother was born, where I was raised, where my brother and sister were born and where you didn't die, but left behind to come away in your old age to start again-- so hard, so brave, a little unhappy, but we loved having you.
The camping-- oh! the camping trip stories I have told... Remember the hurricane? Remember the frogs turned loose? Remember all the fish I never caught? And ice skating? And snowball fights?
The dogs... Remember the long noble line of beagles? Remember burying them behind the chicken coop? Remember the chickens? And the grape arbor? Do you remember Grandmom yodeling? Does she remember how? Does she play the fiddle for you? Do you dance?
I play the fiddle, Pop-pop. And I hold my tacks and pins in my mouth like you, and I squeeze my children's hands when we pray and I kind of love the smell of glue, and I suppose one day I"ll have to take them camping.
I miss you. See you soon....