It was a week of deaths, the powerfully moving and the inconseqential. Uncle Sammy, the last of the Pollard brothers died, and the Hyundai and Subaru did too, all right together. One important, two, not so much at all except...
Sweetheart had gone to the mechanic's to clean out the glove boxes on Wed, he came home that night with, "I think I found a little box of Papa."
I looked at him.
For three years, ashes had traveled all over with me and the poem "I Will Remember You" had traveled in my head, to be spoken each and every time I left a piece of the old him behind. "I Remember You" comforted me, the gift of Hospice to us right after.
As far as I knew the ashes had all made their dust-to-dust way home, although my sister's small box and A's small box in NY I wasn't sure about. (I had flown to NY with that box of ashes and he had bicycled his way from Brooklyn to a part of NYC, taken them from me and bicycled away again. Mama had told me when I got home that Papa hated New York, it didn't matter. He had loved Anthony. He would love a shared trip to MOMA or the Guggenheim.) Papa's ashes had been scattered miles apart in Mother Ocean and miles apart in his blue, blue, mountains, he had slid into the crevices of the foundation of his beloved Heidi Sue's new house and she swore she'd never had an easier build, he was under P's favorite rose bushes and next to the bee hives in E's garden. He continued to veer off the road, peek under the bushes, trespass and treasure hunt, his lifetime curiosity continuing--- the curiosity that made us all prefer he ride shotgun than drive.
The last year and a half of his life, I'd run him to every doctor's appointment or out to see the leaves, wherever he had to go or got to go, the few places he got to go...he always rode shotgun. He never failed to comment on something we passed, usually and often with a single word, "Beautiful." The beauty never failed to get through even when other things weren't sticking as often, mostly I wasn't sure what was sticking. We drove past the fenced in area where for months we'd passed the goats and baby goats. Each time I'd point and say "goats" in the odd kind of way you do when you see baby goats and find yourself trying to sound like a baby goat as you do it. But that last time, as we drove past, I heard his voice go, "G--g--g---g--oa---oa---oa---tssss," in an exact mimicking of my mimicking the goats. He had looked at me and his face had split wide-open with his enormous smile.
He had noticed. I should have known.
The man listened and he heard. The man lived in wonderment and awe and had done his best to gift that to us. Throughout our lives we had opened our eyes to his extended hand, the one that held the tiniest bottle imaginable filled with the tiniest nosegay imaginable, of violets. A morning treasure from his morning walk from the obvious and the hidden patches, his morning call for us to see, and mostly his morning call to us of love. It was his way.
I remember clearly when I'd gone to get his ashes. I was dreading it. Walking in the front doors of the funeral home hadn't helped, neither had the shout in the background that followed...
"IS POLLARD READY?"
He had been.
I had placed the box carefully on the seat beside me in the shotgun position, expecting to cry my way all the way home. Instead, I'd burst out laughing. He had distinctly given me a nudge, I could see him grinning and I could hear him laughing and then I could hear him singing like he always had, an old hymn, "The Lord's Prayer", or "Oh What a Beautiful Morning." It was the latter that I heard fly out of my own mouth, him riding shotgun and us singing our way home. Once again he was guiding me to a place where music, wonderment, peace and comfort became my heart.
All of this flooded through my head in about 2 seconds of "Papa in the glove box?"
Sweetheart handed me the box and sure enough it was Mama's--- the tiny little box we'd gotten for her to keep a few ashes in, just for her. But the ashes had made her too sad, they were too much a statement of what was not, of what had been, of the no place to go now.
We had taken him with us, to the old house, to Grandmama Pollard's, and Mama had tucked the box into the glovebox for safekeeping. Two years ago.
I could hear Papa laughing and I started laughing.
Who knew? Papa had been riding shotgun for months. With Mama or me, or Mama and me together. With his girls, listening, and not missing a trick.
Lord, was it fitting.
And in the fitting way of perfect timing and serendipity, he had surfaced just in time for his last beloved brother's funeral.
He had made it to all but one, and he would make it to that one too.
Yesterday I dressed for Sammy's funeral and slipped the tiny box into the pocket of my coat.
I heard the HA and felt the sweetness of it all.
I put Mama in the car and off we went for one more time, Mama, Papa and me. This time Papa was driving the car with me. God forbid.
|PAPA AND ME
Uncle Sammy---Thank you for your love. Amen and Traveling Mercies.