I have your brass Railroad Maintenance Shop plate hung on display. It’s on a beam in the basement. I’ve hung many other antiques around it. I try and choose mostly cast iron. I think the color of the iron helps to represent my thoughts. The entire beam is covered with items and I’m still searching for more. Often I’ll pray underneath your brass plate. I’d say I miss you, but that wouldn’t be telling it all. I miss your physical form. I do not miss your presence. You’re still here and you still guide me.
You called us honey and you’d pull us in and hug us. You did this every time we saw you. I still remember how you sound when you breath. Your hands were massive and I could see strength in your fingers. For two summers you looked after us three. We’d run around your backyard while you worked in the garden, or in your shop. You’d break off pieces of rhubarb and give them to us and watch us squirm while trying to chew the bitter tasting plant. Then we’d turn on the hose and drink from it and wash away the after taste. We’d watch you pounding with your hammer or cutting wood planks while you were working in your shop. Your suspenders made your large frame look to be among the most solid of all men. You could create anything and you knew everything without boasting. Us three would ask questions without limits and you never tired of us.
There was a pile of bricks you wanted moved from the backyard to the plot of land across the street. You parked the tractor with it’s trailer next to the pile of bricks and told us to fill the trailer. We filled the trailer. It was summer and it was hot. We were sweating, as children do. It starts on top of the head and drips from the brow down the nose and off the body. Our hands were dirty with lime and dust. You drove the tractor, slowly, and we followed running and shuffling behind. Now, you said, line the bricks up like this and then stack them neatly. We had crossed the road and were in the second plot of land.
We lined the bricks and we stacked them neatly. It was still hot and we were still sweating. After we finished you peered at our work and said it looked good and to put the bricks back into the trailer. Then, drive the tractor back to where the bricks came from and lay them back in the yard.
We three didn’t mind stacking the bricks again. We three wanted to drive the tractor.
If only you had us each summer. I often write of you within a story. I think of you every day. I’m realizing that with your actions you have shown me something of the utmost value. I remember asking you who had built your house. You did. It started as a very small house. The bank wouldn’t give you a loan to build more. You then built the house steadily in sections. You did this when you had the money to purchase the supplies. Board by board. Your house is beautiful. I visit Gram; she says she still loves the house and we do too. The interior is hard wood with thick beams lining the ceiling. That’s why I put your brass plate on a wooden beam in the basement. I spend much time there. I remember all of the moments we shared and I wonder how you had so much time to spend with us.
Freedom. I see now that freedom isn’t what we were taught in school. Freedom isn’t getting up when a bell tells us to because we’re part of a group and aren’t we lucky. Freedom isn’t having things to show others, and look at us, we’re lucky and we’re good. Freedom isn’t climbing a ladder of success to then peer down from the top and pat oneself on the back. So many are left behind and forgotten in the wake of these illusions. You allowed me to witness that freedom is owning your time. And now I have an idea.
Thank you Grandpa.
I woke early this morning with these thoughts of my Grandfather. Megan and I leave for Maine shortly. I knew I had to write this or lose it. Good morning.