For my part, I decided to write about my grandfather. He's been gone for about seventeen years now, and on this holiday, my thoughts always turn to him.
Here's my part in the anthology...
My grandfather lived on ten acres, and for a time, I was lucky enough to live on the property with him. He was the kind of man who didn’t shy away from a good deal. He frequented the local auctions, and sometimes even brought me back some unique finds. Once he gave me an entire box of purple eye shadow, which was cool, except for the fact it was one hundred containers of the same color. Another time he returned home with a box of Rubik Cube key chains. I was very popular in school the next day.
In junior high and high school, I was in choir and my sister was in dance. My grandfather always attended our concerts even though some of them were about as interesting as a documentary on sliced bread. It didn’t matter. He still came.
My grandfather had a voice like Louis Armstrong and sang songs about three little fishes while beating me at a game of Crazy Eights. There was something about him that was special. Maybe it was the fact he could skate backward at the roller skating rink when the other grandpa’s couldn’t even move forward without falling down and breaking something. Or maybe it was that he believed I could do anything, be anything. Whatever it was, I was in total awe of him.
When I had my daughter, I called my grandfather to share the news and he made a plan to come see his first great-granddaughter. But one night I arrived home to find my father sitting in my living room. I looked into his eyes and knew something wasn’t right. My grandfather had died.
My entire family made plans to travel to the funeral, but then something strange happened: my grandmother had him cremated, almost immediately. There would be no funeral, no chance for closure, no time to say goodbye. In a moment he was whisked away forever.
Not long after his death, my sister had a dance concert. I remember sitting in a metal chair in a school auditorium waiting for the program to begin. As I looked down at the baby girl I held in my arms, I realized my grandfather would never attend another dance concert or ever hear me sing again. And he'd never meet my daughter.
At that moment a cool breeze brushed across my face like I was outside and a gust of wind had just kicked up, only we were inside and the room was still. No doors had been opened, and the air conditioner hadn’t kicked on. And then I felt it again—this time more powerful, like someone had reached out and touched me, but no one was there. Were they?
Some time later I was alone in my car listening to Tracy Chapman’s The Promise. As soon as the song began, a cool wind drifted by my face. I’d never really taken the time to learn the lyrics of the song, so I played it back and listened and then I did it again, and again. For me the song was about a person making a promise; if they waited, the other person would come for them and they would be together again.
On Father’s Day I not only think of my own father, I think of my grandfather, too. Days like this remind me that just because we can’t see our loved ones after they’ve passed on, doesn’t mean they aren’t around in one way or another, waiting, watching and cheering us on.