SWORDFERN
Rooted, I used to think.

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Friday, Mar. 06, 2009 @ 9:36 pm
Grandpa



Roy, laying in the old, white snow. Quiet.

Grandpa, laying in old, white hospital sheets. Quiet.

5pm, he died, today. 8am, Granny feeding him oatmeal, this morning. He told her he loved her.

He left the house in an ambulance. The house, always yellow in my memory. Christmas mornings in the yellow house. Summer evenings, walking between the rows of pole beans, raspberry canes, my hands loose behind me, touching all of the leaves as I walked. A slight breeze rustles the garden. A crow caws. The soil is so rich and fertile, the potatoes growing waist-high.

Years ago, I hiked with him on the volcanic slopes of Mt Baker. The wildflowers, lupines and asters, decorating our lunch spot. He was old then, and I was so young. He must have been nearly 80. I could hardly keep up.

At Christmas, we'd all lie around the living room near the fireplace, like well-fed dogs, and listen to A Child's Christmas in Wales. First, on a record so full of pops and skips, and, later, on a compact disc that had miraculously made its way under the tree. Grandpa, he'd be orating along with the story. I suppose we all knew it by heart.

The man, so crotchety in his ways, never attended the funeral of a peer. And, in due consistency, he requests nothing of the sort for himself.

I talk on the phone with my father, my mother, and my sister. Thin filament of wire, crossing the Strait of Georgia. Me, on the island where they lived their golden years, where his wife, Ruth, bore him two lanky sons. Them, scattered in the city he called home for some 50 years, a city whose mountains relented to his persistent booted foot, to the end of his wooden-handled ice axe.

When we drove away from his house, the yellow house, on Christmas, I had an idea that would be the last time I'd see him. I remember so vividly the puffiness of his down jacket, how I hugged into down that compressed and compressed until I finally found his body beneath all of those ducks. I remember how, when he set foot into the house, the yellow house, he didn't look back. He walked into the yellow house, and the door shut behind them.

No wave from the porch.

The streets crusted with old, white snow.



Roots | Shoots