Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Papa Rides Shotgun


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...

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.


Uncle Sammy---Thank you  for your love. Amen and Traveling Mercies.


  1. oh my gosh Lucy .... your writing is beyond the very ability most of us have to recall in our own minds..... thank you!! love you camille

  2. This is beautiful! Thank You for sharing. Much Love from Little T

  3. Love this! Love you! Love Papa! Oh what a beautiful Mourning.

  4. Oh Lucie. . . . how sweet. I smiled as many times as I got choked up reading your beautiful blog.

  5. Beautiful! And what a bright, bright face worthy of the best of the angels and a papa worthy of his most excellent daughter, beloved, always beloved.
    Keep drinking the deep draught of these waters of life. Gggoooooaaaatttssss! Forever!

  6. so lovingly appropriate that I received this loving tribute the very night of the first anniversary of my dear mother's death. Trudi made me take her with me for extra love and support and after synagogue, we ate at IHOP in memory of her mother. So this very special, poignant, sad and happy weekend has been filled with the spirits,memories and the presence of three very special souls.

  7. Lucie -- this came just as I was thinking a lot of my own parents, and how we all fit. Thank you for reminding me that every small moment was precious. -- Charlotte

  8. A beautiful...your Dad was one of a kind and one of my favorite people as Nashlyn's was such a part of my earlier life. As I hang ornaments on my tree I am reminded of the wonderful people that have passed through my life and made an impact on me. I wish I could express in words my feelings as you do because I have so many things in my heart that are bursting to get out! Sadly our lives change and we move to other places me lose track of those that were such a wonderful part of our lives. I always look when I go home to find those people and most are gone now. Know my heart sings and has beautiful memories as I decorate my tree. The Pollard Family is very much a part of my Christmas and that includes Margaret also.

  9. That beautiful aura of love in and around his face still lives on through you and others and in your shared memories.
    Linda B

  10. It evoked so many emotions in me. You mentioned a couple times that, Papa and I would have got along splendidly. Something about viewing life in a similar way or having a similar eye ?? You posted the comments after viewing some of my photo's. I felt honored that you saw something in my photo's that reminded you of your Papa!! Not knowing your Papa I didn't understood the depth of your compliment until now.
    A few of the emotions I felt while reading took me by surprise. Why for heaven sake did I feel jealous? regret? loss?
    I had to immediately do an inner inventory. I believe the feeling of jealousy/regret and loss stem from the fact that I never meet your Papa while he was on earth. I missed out on a HUGE blessing!!!

    Did I??????

    Truth be told, I do know, Papa!!! I know him through your writing. Your eloquent words not only keep him close in memory for those who knew him, they keep his spirit alive so other's might know him, too!

  11. Oh how sweet. Just like your dad. I am so glad I knew him, the treasure to humanity that he was. The treasure to my life, from little girl to adult, that he was.

  12. So beautifully expressed. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings with us.

  13. Beautiful, wonderful story. He dances in the shimmering every day so you get to dance in the shimmering, too. What a blessing . . .you recognize it, embrace it and live in the light of love with your dad. That's ONE of the reasons I love Lucie!

  14. Eloquent and heartfelt. Your musings and memories pull forward our own memories of loved ones. Beautiful, as your Papa would say. --daa