The best representation I could find of the family this week . . .
I don’t know how someone thought to put the music in this second piece with the Peter Paul Rubens picture, but I’m glad they did. To me it captures the juxtaposition between the hundreds of dances we do and our profound longing for deeper meaning and reality. We engage in the here and now, and yet we sense something beyond us that is bigger and more beautiful. We reach for one another, twist and turn. Meanwhile in all the jostling, the shape of divine love walks among us whispering an invitation.
This last offering was a recommendation from my oldest who says it’s the beautiful piece out there.
Thanks to the dog, who really needed some exercise, the three younger kids and I took a good long walk yesterday. Everyone was allowed to take three or four pictures of whatever captured them . . .
A tree that caught Girl one’s attention.
From Boy two who ran ahead to try and find beautiful things first. He didn’t quite manage the focus, but I liked the way he set things up with the leaf.
What about you? I said to Girl two. What do you see that is beautiful? We walked at least another 5 or ten minutes through thousands of leaves. Then . . . stop right here, she said. Where? I said looking around at the trees. Right here, she said and pointed down at her feet.
Two different young photographers were desperate to capture this. It looks like the prairies in the books you read, they said.
It takes about 45 minutes to get here. Boy two begged for the destination because he said he had to photograph the, “Rows upon Rows,” his official name for this section of the forest.
“Rows upon Rows,” the hoped for destination so he the girls the seemingly never ending rows of trees.
These are Girl two’s perpetually backwards boots. She swears it doesn’t hurt her feet and she likes them that way. None of us had felt like a walk. Only the duty of the dog got us there. More than an hour later, we all came home happy and content from the tips of our toes to the top of our heads. As Girl one pointed out, if you actually get out into the woods, no matter how much you didn’t want to go, you never, ever, regret it.
Growing up we never lived close to my grandparents, but I felt their love all the same. Especially from my grandmother. As a small child, I sometimes wondered if my grandfather even knew my name, but somewhere in there, he started talking. He’s never really stopped since. I know entire extended families rather well through the stories of my grandmother. My grandfather and I share a love of silly rhymes.
I wasn’t sure how things would work after my mother died. Usually it had been my mother that kept us together.
My grandma called me on the phone. “I call my kids in order. All their numbers are on the wall. I’m too old to change from four to three. I’m putting you in at your mother’s spot,” she said.
She travelled up to meet my first baby. I travelled down with the other three when they arrived. She bought me diapers and tucked twenty dollar bills in my coat for gas. I sent pictures and letters I had never taken the time to write before. We weren’t forgetting my mother. We were loving somebody else who loved her. Along the way, we found a lot of love and joy between us. My mother would like that.
My grandfather doesn’t remember things now. He has cancer that he isn’t treating. Many conversations, he can’t follow. He joins in by telling jokes he thinks of.
This year we had an early Thanksgiving dinner together. My grandparents, my girls, and me. I brought one of our chickens. The girls drew turkey pictures and made place cards. We ate brownies for dessert and saved the pumpkin pie for the next day so we could properly enjoy it.
I went to bed afterwards thinking about books. How every chapter should be the best you can make it. Every sentence matters. But as good as it all is, if it’s done right, the last chapter is the best. Everything comes together. The beautiful intensifies to a level you had no idea was even possible back when you were reading in the middle and enjoying every page.
I am struck with my grandfather’s gentleness amidst confusion. His quiet trust in my grandmother is not a tenderness I could have imagined in him twenty years ago. He needs a lot of help navigating daily life. My grandmother learns what she needs to do, and does it. She does not spend her days grieving who my grandfather is not. She looks at the man who is present, figures out how to give him what he needs, and loves him as he is.
I have been reading the book of their lives for a long time now. So many different chapters. So much for me to learn. But this last chapter. It takes my words away and sits me down quiet with wonder. About love. And it never, ever being too late to become like the Velveteen rabbit. More real. More beautiful.