Thursday, May 24, 2012

What Grandpa Left Behind

I found myself misty eyed in my mother's garden over the weekend. I had been sent to check in on the nest of duck eggs that were laid in a nest near the pond. I went traipsing, which in actual fact was a thirty pace jaunt from my deck chair, through the trellis and around the lawn ornamentation. My mother lives in suburbia, her back forty and forty feet of frontage are the same thing.

Despite the smallness of my journey I required instruction and direction, expertly shouted by my expedition fans on the deck. "Straight ahead...behind the the zebra grass"

"I don't see the nest." I sent back over my shoulder.

"Right there under Grandpa's bench" at this point I became very confused there are two benches around my mother's pond; one my Grandmother used to sit on when she was alive and one the neighbours bought in her memory after she died....I was near neither of them.

Then I looked a little closer at where I was standing. There in front of me hidden by knee high ornamental grass was a third bench. I froze and my eyes welled up with tears.

My Grandfather's bench.

Three simple planks of wood nailed together. I feel apart a little. When I was a little girl my grandfather was my hero. He was tall and strong, he spoke seldom but when he did you listened up because it was always something worth hearing. I soaked in wisdom like a sponge in his company, I could not listen enough to the things had or did not have to say. On Sundays we would walk up through the back of his property to a spot perched high above a gravel pit that lay quieted away behind his house. There under a large shady maple you could find two things; quiet and my Grandfather's bench. (As an adult I would also suspect that a 26er of rye was probably nestled in the crook of the roots somewhere) This was his 'Thinking Place.' 
Grandpa's Bench
(moved out of the grass - just for a minute)

Grandpa would spend hours there smoking his pipe and contemplating existence. I realize more now as an adult just how privileged we as grandchildren were to have been invited along in our turns to enjoy the reverence of such a place. No conversation under that maple, on that bench or the ground perch in the dirt at it's base was meaningless. I was forever amazed how my Grandpa knew what the conversation needed to be, he could sense my troubles before I could name them myself. Without fail his words would waft in like a breeze and carry the troubles away in departure. This is the place where I learned the value of thinking. Not the value of being smart but the act of being in thought. How many of our troubles could we quell just through quiet, focused thought and reflection?

Grandpa passed away at the end of my teenage years, several before I became a wife and a mother. What I wouldn't have traded many times over the years for just a few minutes with Grandpa in his  thinking spot, for just a shred of his wisdom to help me through the dark days.

I laid eyes on Grandpa's bench and cried for days well past, days missed and the gift that was my Grandfather's thinking place.

I also scratched my head in disbelief that my mother moved the bench from under the tree above the gravel pit to her own backyard more than 24 years ago and I had no clue it existed there! Just as well, I'm sure she would have gotten tired of me hanging out around her pond at all hours of the day and night! .

Gratitude today for memories and the pieces of our past we carry with us, some in our hearts and some in our flower beds.

Gratitude, Hope and Smiles are meant to be shared,