once upon a time, i thought if i was wealthier, healthier, or more in love, i would be happier. it turns out the happier i am, the wealthier, healthier, or more in love i will be. *big sigh* this tree is for my grandfather and the land he ranched. papande, my grandfather, was simple and always at peace. i only ever knew him as "grandpa"...and to me he was wealthier, healthier, and more in love because of that contentment in him. he knew everything there was to know about trees, bushes and shrubs,... cattle breeds, horses... he grew giant sunflowers in a small garden patch in his back yard. i would walk through the stems, when i was a little girl, and pretend that i was a bug lost in the labyrinth of bright, happy flowers. this was papande. always gentle. always wise. always happy. i never heard him raise his voice (the loudest sounds he ever made were his sneezes, which did cause me to jump out of my chair because they were so abrupt-- they were just "grandpa-sneezes", though)...
i never saw him frown, except once when i was in college. he was scaling a fish out on the porch, and scales were flying and falling almost like snow, glinting in the sun. i remember thinking, "oh, how pretty...the scales catch the light and shimmer like...well, a fishy christmas." frustrated by the flashing mess before him, he furrowed his brow and said, "cheese", which was really "geez", but sounded more like the dairy product. my best friend who was with us at the time, looked at me and said, "now, that's a REAL grandpa!!!" his "cuteness" almost overcame me, but i fought off the urge to hug him and squeeze his cheeks....well, i did hug him.
i wish i would have known him better, you know? not as a child, but as an adult. (i think i'm going to talk to my tia eugie about this.)
one of my greatest desires is that my children get to know their grandpa (who also has ranching in his blood) like i know him. daddy has always been my hero. if i could be more like these men, i would do my boys much good. the ornaments on the tree are symbols for that which has existed in our family for generations and has been passed down to me. i have a great respect for the land my family has tended and cared for. it's part of me now, too. daddy would like that.
i dream of my grandparents quite often, and it always pleases me to "visit" with them for a while.
years ago when i was in college, papande got sick over christmas break. i went to visit him at the hospital, but my uncle asked me to step outside while the nurses bathed him. i waited 90 minutes. tio forgot about me in the hallway. i only sat with him for a little; school was resuming, and i had to drive back the next day.
on a cold january morning, he was on my mind...there is no english word for what i felt, but is spanish we would say "presienta", which loosely translates to --"pre-felt" or "pre-feel" or just "feel". well, i felt him all around me, so i went to a gift shop, bought him a get well card, and went to the campus post office to drop it off. AS SOON AS i walked out of that usps, it started to snow ever so lightly...and a quiet voice inside me said, "it's too late." i knew he would never get my card. it was bizarre because he wasn't even that sick to begin with!... at least that's what we thought at first. i rushed home and called my dad at the office. daddy wasn't there. his secretary, who did not recognize my voice, informed me that he had just left because his father had just died. i put the phone down and scrubbed my apartment to kingdom-come. when every toilet was scoured, every window wiped, every dish washed...when there was NOTHING left for me to clean, i sat down on the floor with rag in hand and wept for hours.
the only thing of his i ever wanted was his cowboy hat...not the clean, boxed-up, new one, but the dingy, sweaty, crumpled one he wore day in and day out when he checked on his cattle....the one stained by his labor of love. this is that hat. a family treasure that crowns my tree.*i'm smiling*
grandpa missed grandma. he only lasted two years after she passed, and both passed in winter. do the old ever go on warm, sunny days?...when flowers are in bloom and children pretend to be bugs and play in the grass? they probably do, but none of my grandparents did. mine said goodbye when snow fell.