This morning before I got out of bed,I got an urge to do something I don't believe I've ever wanted to do on my own. I wanted to visit a grave. Your grave. I've never wanted to visit any cemetery really because the dead rest there. Today was different.
I wanted to go to your grave. Brush the dirt and grass from your name and read it. Feeling the cool sensation of your earthly title and years. I wanted to sit on the grass where you are and cry because you are so close and yet so far. How far I have no idea and that hurts a little more.
As I laid in bed weeping, I wondered how it could still hurt after almost 20 years. How I can still miss you with the few precious memories I've got. The thought crossed my mind if I could give my writing arm, not just my hand, my arm, it would probably be worth a prosthetic and learning lefty for a while to see you.
To have you show up at the door of my grandmother's house. Thanksgiving when all of us usually are there. You'd recognize me I think because my hair is the same as when you first saw me. An afro. Only I'm not so small and chubby with a green felt dress and shiny black baby shoes. And those socks with the lace. I'm big now.
What did you call me? What would you call me? Rachelle or The Baby? Either one would do. You'd be speaking and I'd hear the sound of a voice forgotten. It would sound strange and I'd immediately find all to love in it.
I'd even sit on your lap like when I was small. Yeah, you'd bring your chair. And when you pulled the level I'd still laugh. Perhaps harder now.
You'd see a medium small dog run up to you enthusiastically and probably ask why it isn't outside. And what's wrong with him when you put the dog out. He's too old not to know how to lift his leg when he pee's. Sandy,your older granddaughter, my cousin, would probably be the one to say, "Grandfather. That's Gigi. She's a girl and is more of a house dog." Then you would do what I know you did and don't really remember and call my grandmother."BIIIIILL!!" And we'd all laugh as you fussed about this girl dog and it not being outside where it belonged and what is a Gigi?
There would be children running around. More than you remember 20 years ago. And one of them isn't me. Two boys from Sandy and a girl and another girl on the way from Ramsey. Poor Dear Grandfather. You're probably wondering how they got it all wrong. Two girls can't carry on the Smith name. Then you'd love them anyway wouldn't you? Like you loved me.
Perhaps wondering who the white kids really were. Yes, those are Sandy's. She's just always been light like this side of the family and the white man cooking delicious healthy food is her husband and we love them all. You may not understand it all. You'd love them anyway.
Then I'd tell you everything whether you understood it or not.
My blog. A what? Oh you're a writer huh?
I'm married. You'd wonder where your shot gun was. Got rid of it? The b-b gun too? Damnit Bill. Not even a male dog that can lift it's leg.
He's a vegetarian and I've thought about it too. A what? No meat? This 2012 stuff is pretty liberal.
And I'd even tell you about yoga and how it's changed my life. No I'm not a hippy. Yoga? So you work out? You look good.
I can hear you wondering aloud about our clothes and the small bright things that make noise and everyone is touching all day. The great grandbaby's are playing and shouting and Grandmother uses a cane now. The house is almost a new thing but much is still the same. You built it with your own hands and of course your family still lives where they belong right? Your work is solid. You always knew it.
The head of the table would be yours and Ramsey on the other. Grandmother and Mom to your flanks and me by mom. And I'd stare at you. What we expected, you wonder about this health food and why Sandy's husband, a man, did 99% of the cooking. You'd eat and maybe like it or not and you'd complain and fuss at my grandmother "Bill" and we'd laugh to crying and back again.
Later after dinner while there are naps, walks, work and play, I'd touch your face. See how much I'd remember or forgotten and if the photos captured you right. I'd touch your salt and pepper hair because I'm curious about the texture. What did your eyes see in me then and what do they see now? Yes,the little girl is in there,but she's big now.
Isn't she? Or am I always the baby? I don't care either way. Your flannel shirt is familiar. Your chair feels familiar and your arms have grown bigger and my hands much smaller. I'm resting in your lap in a felt dress with lace socks and shiny black shoes while we both breathe in the memory of then and now. Have they become the same? Are you proud? Do you love me Grandfather? Eyes open again and we smile.
Now you have to go. Everyone hugs you. There's no time limit. I would go last, since I'm losing an arm but I can't deny the best for my Grandmother. I hug you softly. With strength. Shake with tears falling from confusion, sorrow and happiness. And I stare at your face. Etching you into my memory like the name and years on your grave. I'll remember the flannel. Your face, hair, eyes. Your smell. When you say you love me, The Baby, I'll rewind and replay however you say it until it's a part of my brain chemistry.
You would hug your wife. Tell her she's doing pretty good, you guess, considering your not there. Do something about that dog or get another one too. You used to have a couple dogs at a time. You'd probably wonder how she's gotten on without a man. Mom too. Must be that 2012 thing. Not even a shot gun.
Then we'd see your last facial expressions of confusion of what you'd come back to.
Internet, cell phone, Vegetarian, Blog, girl dog, Yoga, mixed kids, no Smith boys. No shot gun. Mom's not married. The baby's not small, Bill lives half alone.
Then you'd smile, not minding what you didn't understand (as much) and be glad.
Ramsey has a wife and two great grandbaby girls, Sandy has a husband and two great grandbaby boys. Mom is doing well and your only living child, you'll see your son Jim when you got back. The girl dog's got a good bark. You'll give her that. Bill's always your Bill. She looks good in her old age. Got all her mind which you may not remember losing. You've got a solid wife. And my husband. A real and dedicated man. And me. The Baby. The writer and does/is a Yoga? She's a healthy and smart baby. With all that hair and the big smile.
You'd leave happy and with your last demands as the man in charge. We'd all laugh and nod and love you more than we can physically express. The same will go for you and the tears we show on the outside will fill up your inside, with your own, even though you don't say. We know. I know. You love us so much more.
Then I'd say good-bye to my arm. My writing hand. I'd be sad and take it to memory as the one I've gotten in trade for it. I got a great bargain I'd say. And I'd come to your grave again. And lay on the grass. You're so close and so far. I know how far you are away now. Never too far.
You can hear me can't you? My tears are filling you up so you'll never dry out. Our tears are our thoughts and love to you. You'll never dry out.
I'll write you again with my left hand or my new one. And you'll love it. Like you love me right?
The Baby with the afro, green dress with lace socks and shiny shoes.
I Love You. And you can hear me. I just don't know which wind or frequency to listen back for you on. I'll keep writing and trying to hear.
You love me too Grandfather don't you?
My memories, imagined into reality and lived into imagination say yes.