Grandpa Wondering (via J. Thomas Burke)

Shadows of Love happens every day.  There is never a time when the Lover is not calling to us.  To the untrained eye, shadows of Love can flit by unnoticed.  As life happens, we see more clearly.

“When I was young I wanted to add things to my life: friends, money, knowledge, degrees, experiences. Now I can feel life tipping. I’m realizing there is more to lose than there is to gain.”

Grandpa Wondering

My father’s father died last week. He was my last grandpa. Until my father called that morning I had always had a grandpa. Now I must face the world grandfatherless. Someday I will face it fatherless, motherless, wifeless, friendless. But this is the way of things. When I was young I wanted to add things to my life: friends, money, knowledge, degrees, experiences. Now I can feel life tipping. I’m realizing there is more to lose than there is to gain. Which is OK. There is nothing out there that I really want that I don’t already have. I just hope that when the world is ready to take more away I’m ready to let go.

Grandpa Wondering

When I opened my locker
my phone was flashing
and I guessed he was gone.

I checked my messages
from Mom and Dad both
asking me to call home.
As I walked down the mall
I heard Dad ask
on the other end

Have you talked to anyone yet?

No. I just got your messages to call.

Grandpa died this morning at 8:30.
I figured you probably guessed that.

And I had. Immediately
I flashed back
to that fall Saturday
when I was 11 and hoping
my cousins would call to play.
The phone rang. I got excited.
It was Grandpa wondering
if I wanted to go to the tractor show.

No, Grandpa, I said. I think Will would enjoy that more.
And they went and had a good time.
I missed a chance,
but at 11—how do you know?

Sitting on a bench
outside of Journey’s
is a strange place to hear
such significant news,
but this is how it happens—
always on its own terms
and never when it is convenient for us.
But life is not convenient.
Why would we expect death
to be any different?

I called my wife
from that bench
to tell her it happened.
She and Grandpa had a special connection.

Can you talk, I asked.

Yes.

Grandpa died this morning at 8:30.

I’m sorry, Jer, she said
as a woman in a red coat
sat right next to me
on the bench of my mourning.
She sat and listened
as I told my wife about the wake,
the funeral plans waiting
almost until the end
before she got uncomfortable
and stood up pretending
to read the information kiosk.
Death does that to us.
We’d rather ignore it,
keep pretending
like it is something that happens
to someone else rather
than the nothing always waiting
for us.

Again I remember Grandpa
and Grandma’s 60th wedding anniversary.
I asked him

After all these years
what advice do you have
for us about marriage?

He paused
and said

I learned right away—once you’re married: no girlfriends

and he slid his hands through the air
like an umpire
calling a runner safe
wiping out the possibility
and clearing the way for us
to reach 60 years, too.

I sit here still
eating a pretzel now, but not tasting it
and wondering what Grandpa had
for his last meal.

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One thought on “Grandpa Wondering (via J. Thomas Burke)

  1. Pingback: Bittersweet week « Here We Go

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