Monday, January 10, 2005

Remembering December 17th

Remembering December 17th

December 17……I am at work….so much to do. I have to get a lot done since it is almost the end of the year. Christmas…..Christmas is coming….have I finished the wrapping….don’t forget to get squash for James, he wants squash for his Christmas dinner. The phone rings and I reach for it…..instinctively I look at the caller ID….it’s a 947 number…..Lakeville. Lakeville?? …but it is not Grandma’s number….huh? Instinct takes over…I know what this is. The call I knew was coming but I don’t want to hear it. Hello…..its Mom, she is quiet and calm, “it’s all over…ummm, he passed this morning, please call your brother and sister, I can’t think now and I don’t know their cell numbers”. I will, of course I will, and I will leave work as soon as I can and get Betsy’s kids. Don’t worry about us Mom, do what you need to do today and don’t worry about all the kids, I will make sure everyone is picked up from sitters, off busses, from school etc.

I get into the car to headed home……it’s quiet. Too quiet, and the middle of the day, this is odd.

I decide to listen to the radio, and maybe I can get through this long drive if I am slightly distracted. I hit the power button and the radio begins at the opening verse of Freebird. I begin to sing the lyrics…” If I leave here tomorrow, would you still remember me?, for I must be traveling on now, cause there’s too many places I’ve got to see”. I know these words are compiled to mean something completely different but my mind changes them to apply. Grandpa has left here and yes, I will always remember you. I keep loosing focus on the song and then coming back to the lyrics. “…if I stayed here with you….things just couldn’t be the same, cause I’m as free as a bird now…”. I realized at this time that this song now has a completely new meaning and memory for me now. Never again will I hear this song and not remember Grandpa. You see, he is as free as a bird now, free from the prison that his aging body had him in for the last few years. Up until today, when I thought of Grandpa, I thought of that old frail man who was living in a nursing home and suddenly I remember a man, free as a bird. A man who found joy in everything and everyone, who without fail saw the good and the beautiful everywhere. A man who truly enjoyed and appreciated all and could find joy in everything not limited to his family for which he watched grow with such joy but who would find the humor and appreciate even a television commercial or the petal of a flower through his camera lens. I suddenly hear the laughter that would roll from way down deep inside. I suddenly remember things that I have forgotten in the last few years like lemon squares on Sunday mornings in Lakeville, learning to walk in snowshoes in New Hampshire. The list of memories is endless and day by day gets longer and longer. Cutting Christmas trees in the woods, fishing in the lake, apple picking, watching squirrels from the breakfast table, a fish pond, photographs, his workshop in New Hampshire, trips to the candy store, long dinners simply to enjoy family conversation, jokes he could hardly finish without laughing, the smell of his pipe, how to start a fire with a magnifying glass, sledding, long walks around the circle, ever a kind word and “that’s just the way I like it”, always with his love by his side, but mostly that laughter, I can still hear that laughter. I find myself wishing that my children could share these wonderful memories but never will. He is free now, free as a bird, at least in my mind.

I did not listen to the radio again for a few days mostly due to the fact that the next few days turned out to be very busy and partly because this experience and this song brought me this message that I did not want to loose. But it happened again… we left the cemetery after the short but appropriate service I turned the radio on again as the silence was just too much and playing at that very moment was an old familiar song….Freebird. So there it is, our special song, Grandpa’s and mine. He is free and I will never forget. 

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