they pay to kiss your feet

since there's no one else around, we let our hair grow long and forget all we used to know. then our skin gets thicker from living out in the snow.

Monday, October 17, 2005

For my grandparents on their 50th wedding anniversary.

I used to wonder who I looked like. I also wondered things like what types of diseases might run in my family and if I was going to age gracefully. I’d pass someone on the street, someone who looked a little bit like I did, and I’d pretend we were cousins. I’d pick out grandparent-aged couples and think maybe, just maybe, those were my grandparent — my flesh and my blood. Of course, I was wrong every time. The soft-looking older lady with the creamy skin and brunette hair that I saw walking around the shopping mall wasn’t my grandmother. Neither was the tall, blonde-headed supermarket worker. My grandpa wasn’t the man I saw sitting on a bench at the park wearing brown khakis and a sweater vest. He also wasn’t the very bald, very short security guard at a building downtown. Mostly, I wondered what had happened and if I would ever meet these people who created my mother, this woman who just happens to be one of the most beautiful people I know. They had to be great, my grandparents, but I didn’t know anything, not even their last name. We thought it was Henry. I preferred to think it may be something exotic or French like Bogart or Boucher. I wondered where they lived. Were they still in Kansas? Were there any other children? Was that woman that I passed on the street my aunt? I had so many questions and then one day, I got answers — six of them. I had two real, live grandparents that were my flesh and my blood and they were married. I had two aunts and two uncles, each of which had an uncanny resemblance to my mother. I could look my heritage in the face. My grandma and my mom have the same eyes, they’re as deep and as warm as they are cold and distant, an enchanting color of hazel, and they are captivating. I could see that my petite mom came from a tall, strapping father, which explains why I am the only woman in my family to clear five feet four inches. So much made sense when I felt them give me hug after hug, accepting me as if they had known me all along. There are also some lessons you learn and they stay with you forever. My grandparents have taught me that mistakes can become the most beautiful blessings, that God knows what he is doing and that in life, we are not defined by our mishaps, but instead, by the sum of our intentions. They’ve shown me that sometimes, the most gut-wrenching heartache can be turned on its back, that not all tears are sad tears and that mothers and daughters always have a connection even when years and miles are between them. I’m sure I will continue to learn from them, about what makes marriage last 50 years, about how to keep family close and about how to live like you mean it with a sort of reckless abandon that is neither reckless nor abandoned, but that is vibrant and full of life and love and energy — the kind life that makes people stand up and take notice.


Post a Comment

<< Home