Saturday, August 30, 2008

Unspoken

I don't know what he was watching. Perhaps the cars on the morning street, almost soft and vast in the newness of the day, cars driven with an absence of haste. an enjoyment of the road and an abandonment of destination. Perhaps there was a butterfly, a small one, the buttery yellow kind that have appeared lately and are barely noticeable at all until they take quick and jittery flutters from one patch of browning clover to another. Perhaps it was the mouse which sometimes scurries along the edge of the patio, attracting the attention of the cats, who sit in a row, their tails jerking without any conceivable rhythm as they watch it climb up one side of the grill and down the other. Perhaps it does not matter what he was watching, only that something in his eyes, something far away, reminded me of my grandfather, of a photograph I'd taken in the last year of his life. We'd been sitting on his patio, enclosed and bigger than the one Duncan and I sat on this morning. Grandpa and I were alone and he'd just fallen silent after talking about the cancer he knew would take him. He turned away and looked long and hard past the pine tree he'd planted when I was six, which towered over the yard, now far too tall to jump over as I'd done the first year it had been in the ground. He gazed out the window at the street and the old school on the other side of it. He did not say anything and I did not ask, but took a picture instead and every time I've looked at it for the past eight years my heart has ached for not asking, for never being able to know what that beautiful, quiet moment held for him. Duncan is not my grandfather, did not even have the joy of meeting him, but the way they looked so intently out into world was startlingly similar, with thoughts never to be spoken, held silent like a love poem to life.

7 comments:

Traci said...

Beautiful. What a great photo. Both of em.

Sue said...

Perfect pictures Curt. Priceless.

The picture of your Grandpa reminds me of a look my German Grandma (Omi) had the last time I saw her. I visited with her in the fall of 1999, and she left us in August of 2000. I sat with her, in a nursing home in northern Germany, me speaking my broken German, and her nodding in appreciation, and returning soft words in broken English. Both of us happy, just to sit, just to have the time together, and enjoy each other's company. My Omi sat and gazed out the window for a long while at one point, and I didn't want to intrude on her thoughts. I just sat, watching her, and taking in all I could of her presence...knowing, somehow, that it would be the last chance I had. I am so thankful for that memory, and would give anything to have a picture like yours.

caboval said...

Love the black and white of Duncan. That was a beautiful post Curt. Wish it didnt make me cry.

Peacock And Paisley said...

How old is Duncan? I've heard lots of people say they swear their loved one has reincarnated as their dog..... :)

Curt Rogers said...

Duncan turns four in three days. He was born only five weeks after my grandmother died. I actually touched on the subject you mentioned briefly in my February 19th post, which you can read here:

http://whilewalkingduncan.blogspot.com/2008/02/nineteenth.html

You'll have to let me know what you think.

dad said...

You really got me with this one, boy. I was startled to see that picture of Dad. I recognized the look, having seen it a million times in those final months. He loved his porch, the barberry bushes and the yellow-bellied sapsuckers that occasionally fell prey to the numerous cats he fed but allowed to fend for themselves. He hated it when the cats got his beloved birds. But, that's nature.
I asked him once what he was thinking when he struck such a pose as you depicted.
He paused and said he was just trying to think about what he wanted people to say about him...
He pondered and said, "I guess they could say 'I always did what I said I'd do.'"
He did. Dad was mayor of Firth from about 1968 until the day he died in 2000. He paved all the streets in Firth, he made sure all the basements were water free. He got new sewage treatment ponds and pumps installed. He had a nature park installed in the Firth River Bottoms. Whatever he said he'd do...he did.
You had me crying a bit too hard yesterday, but, I got over it and love you for your reminiscence.

Greg said...

(Yah, 'cause I needed a few more tears in my week.)

But thank you for your wonderful reminiscences...and the lovely way you see and think about the world.