Friday, June 24, 2011

In Memory

It's hard to explain exactly what I've been feeling the last few days. I found out that a classmate of mine, from middle & high school, died unexpectedly.

As I began writing, in her memory, I tried to think of specific memories I have of her. They are few and scattered. In middle school, when we met, she was the support necessary to get to the top of cheerleading pyramid and laughter as we tried to learn new dance routines. In high school she was a timid, but friendly smile in the hallway between classes. In recent years the memories consisted of facebook status updates and changes of profile pictures.

But I get it. While my interactions with this woman were limited and just a small piece of the picture of who she was and who she became, to some she was everything.

For the little girl that will sit across from an empty seat at mealtimes, she was everything.

For the man that now sleeps in his marriage bed alone, she was everything.

For the sister that no longer has someone that understands every part of her past, present, and hopes for the future, she was everything.

For the parents that were there for her first breaths, and tomorrow will be there to place a lifeless body in the ground, she was everything.

Everyone is everything to someone.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Mended fences & swinging gates

Many of my childhood memories of my dad and his dad have to do with farming and fields, cows and crops.

The memories come at different times and in different ways...

Driving paved neighborhood streets in suburbia with the windows down is somehow deeply connected to the feeling of bumping across a field in the back of a pick-up truck with wind blowing loose braided pigtails.

The first sight of fireflies in summer will always remind me of sitting beneath pecan trees shucking corn until after the sun set.

The quart bags of blueberries and pecans in my freezer and a couple of dozen small jelly jars of homemade blackberry jam seem paltry in comparison to the freezers full of okra, beans, corn and beef, or the pantry filled with canned goods from my grandparents' gardens that I remember so clearly.

My dad spent hours, days, and probably years of his life in a field, on a tractor, mending fences, counting and caring for livestock and I'm certain the habits he developed in his younger years continue to guide his behavior today.

Just as he helped break loose soil to plant seeds, then watched to keep weeds at bay, he tended three children to adulthood. I'm certain that he recognized, that once a seed is planted there is only so much you can do, then you just have to wait for it to grow on its own and bear fruit of its own kind. Maybe this is why, at times, he seemed to step back, but he was always nearby, waiting and watching as his seeds grew.

Just as my dad and his dad would repair broken fences while the cows were in another part of the pasture, I'm certain that he created boundaries, without us even realizing it, to keep us safe.

Just as he held the key to unlock the gate, then let us "ride" it as it would swing open, I know that his hard work and dedication opened many doors of opportunity that have since brought me as much joy as the swinging gates of my childhood.

Daddy is not a perfect man. I am far from a perfect child. Yet still I'm glad he is mine and I am his.