The epilogue.

by

When I was a child, there was a stretch of railroad track suspended high above a muddy river. My father, his parents, my mother, my sister, my cousins – everyone loved to walk over the evenly spaced pieces of wood, perhaps because the feel of danger – but mostly because everyone believed there was no way anything bad could ever happen.

I did not. I hated those tracks, and the terror of creeping across them, hardly daring to breathe, the fucking relief when stepping onto grass on the other side. But the knowledge that I would have to turn around, at some point, and cross them again. No matter the sweetness of the smell of honeysuckle, no matter the sunlight dancing through impossibly green leaves. Every step forward was a lie, because I knew, knew, simply knew it would require me to turn back with a brave face and walk across those tracks again.

It never occured to me to tell anyone I didn’t want to, and even if I had, my father would have shamed me into it with his jollying along, his laughter, his head shaking as if to say, Who is this girl I have raised as my daughter?

But he didn’t, you know. Raise me. Oh, he shaped me. Every time I heard my mother pushed down the stairs, every time he hit me, every time he drank and drank and drank and decided he wasn’t going to bother coming home. Sometimes we walked in fields, exploring the world and me being given a chance to be me, in a way my mother couldn’t provide. Most times it was the laughter, the jokes, the cruel games I never quite believed were games. Even then, I knew he meant to hurt, to twist me up, to confuse.

His parents owned that house a drive away from the railroad tracks. My grandfather was a gentle, short, smiling soul. He had the misfortune to share his life with my grandmother, a hard, thin shell of a woman who didn’t understand how to give or receive love. She watched birds, he smiled and called my sister ‘Snicklefritz.’

They had a path behind their house, an escape I loved. Unlike the railroad tracks, so free and high in the sunshine, this path was crowded by trees, never walked on by anyone but me, it felt, and went past things dear to me. A little shelter that was never explained. An open meadow ringed by perfectly spaced pine trees. Peace and space away from everyone else and room to think, think, think. Space to be.

I have dreamt of that path this week, perhaps last night, though with a mother’s tired mind I cannot promise it is so. But this week, perhaps last night, I took TMD along that path. At first it was different, then I began to recognise things. Instead of grasping with my hands, my feet knew the way and we walked in the dappled quiet.

Upon waking, I thought, That’s weird. I haven’t thought of that path in years. Upon waking, I thought, I wonder if he is going to die.

This morning I heard the news: my grandfather, the peaceful teacher who had fought in the world’s greatest war, had died. Sometime between 2:30 and 5:30 am.

I have not seen or spoken to my father’s parents in over seven years. I heard the news, I felt the immediate shock of What? Death still exists? I felt nothing much after that, aside from a twinge of guilt for not feeling much. This man, this man who lost his memory at the end, had a picture of my babies hanging on the wall of his nursing home. It was the only thing on that board. I don’t know if he even knew who they were. Who I was.

I went through the day, not feeling much, feeling like I should feel more.

This evening TMD came into the bathroom. I was in a hot tub, I looked at her, and I started to cry.

For myself, for my healing, I wish the courage to walk those tracks. Or to say, You know? I like it over here. I don’t have to cross them if I don’t want to. Those tracks go in only one direction, and the rest of the ground can take me in millions.

For that man who died this morning, I wish peace, escape and freedom to be, solitude if he wishes, but a place in my memory worn as smooth as a path I once liked to walk.

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14 Responses to “The epilogue.”

  1. Tatiana Says:

    This is such a beautiful post. I’m sorry that you’re hurt. All my love.

  2. slee Says:

    I don’t know how you feel, but very nearly, and I’m sorry for the loss which magnifies so many other things.

  3. pamela Says:

    oh, mama. this was beautiful. i’m so sorry for your loss.

  4. Chibi Jeebs Says:

    I’m so sorry for your loss. 😦 Sending much love. *hugs*

  5. PottyMouthMommy Says:

    So sorry for your loss.

  6. Darlene Says:

    What a gentle and sweet tribute. I’m so sorry for your loss.

  7. Christy Says:

    I’m so sorry for your hurt and loss. This is a beautiful post. {{{hugs}}}

  8. Jennie Says:

    I’m sorry to hear about your Grandad’s passing. Even if you haven’t been in touch for a long time I know it can still be painful. I hope Coconut and Snort are extra specially cheering for you!

  9. tiareads Says:

    sorry for your loss. ❤

    love your writing. so eloquently written.

  10. 2momswithaplan Says:

    What a beautiful post, thank you so much for sharing this part of you.

    I’m sorry to hear of your loss and I’m also sorry to hear about how you were treated by your father as a child.

  11. @WannabeMomErin Says:

    This is a brilliant piece of writing. I will be honoured if someone in my life writes something even half as real in tribute to me.

  12. Katie Says:

    Beautiful.

  13. Mary Beth Says:

    i am so sorry for your loss. i believe it is possible that they give us gifts such as dreams, memory, and love as they move on.

  14. Erika Says:

    Oh, no. I’m so sorry for this. Such a beautiful post. Take care…I hope you find some peace of your own.

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