Sunday, October 9, 2011

Best Dad Evar on Clarity #GBE2

Dust billows up between the planter boxes and the jam-packed storage shed that form the boundaries of Best Dad Evar’s recently overgrown lawn. He wrestles with his aging lawnmower, zig-zagging around various obstacles as he crops milkweed, clover and wall-climbing Bermuda grass. His eyes are bloodshot, his throat wheezes with every breath and his nose is dripping so badly, the stream of it has crossed the threshold of his upper lip.
“Allergies?” a voice breaks through the growl of the motor.
Best Dad tries to breathe in, but his nose produces only a halting snort that clearly doesn’t penetrate the sinus cavity. He lifts up his sweaty, grass-flecked t-shirt and wipes it across his nose. Finding the initial wipe to be inadequate, he grasps his nose with another, drier section of shirt and blows hard.
“Best Dad Evar!” the narrator is horrified.

“What?” Best Dad sounds exasperated, but cowed. “You sound like my mother.”
“More like your wife. What would she say if one of your children used their clothes as a Kleenex like you just did?”
“Oh, I know what she’d say, ‘cause she does say it regularly. Kids are wired to ignore the value of tissues. And clothes are so convenient to wipe on.”
“That doesn’t excuse you doing it.”
Best Dad protests weakly, “But I’d have to stop my whole lawn-mowing project to get a tissue.”
“My god, you sound just like your oldest child!”
Best Dad Evar chuckles, nodding his head slightly in agreement.

“What if they saw you using your shirt as a tissue?” The narrator continues, sounding suspiciously like the aforementioned spouse. “Wouldn’t that be setting a bad example for them?”
“They won’t see me doing it. They never look out here when I mow the lawn. The noise scares them.”
“That’s just a convenient excuse. You know they watch you all the time. They probably see much more of your actions than you realize.”
Best Dad sighs and rolls his eyes. “Stop lecturing me. I can’t be perfect.”
“All right, I’ll stop.”

Best Dad has also stopped. He hasn’t started his mower back up again and seems to be staring off, not into the distance, but instead at … a potted plant?
“Are you all right, Best Dad Evar?” the narrator asks with some concern.
“What? Oh. Yeah, I’m fine.”
“You were thinking about something, though.”
“Yeah, sometimes I’m reminded of things or people.”
“You’re looking at that plant, what does that remind you of?”
“My grandmother. It’s one of her succulent plants, you know, I mean, it came from her house.” He says, with a sad look flashing across his face. “And I can picture her with clarity, tending to her succulents with her straw hat and her wrinkled, dirty fingers.”
“That’s what you have the plant for, right, to remind you of her?”

“Yes, you’re right. But when I’m reminded of her, it also makes me sad.”
“Sad, why? Because she’s gone and you’ll never see her again?”
“No. I mean, yes, I’m sad about that, too. But I’m more sad that my girls will never get to meet her and know her like I did. She was so important to me and such an inspiration.”

“Yeah.” The narrator replies as if he doesn’t know what to say next. After a pause, he regains his normal role as the all-knowing, wise expert on Best Dad’s life. “But you are honoring her by showing your children your enthusiasm for the things she loved.”
Best Dad brightens, “Bird-watching, family tree research, old pictures, gardening… Mm hm. Yeah, I do carry those passions forward so my kids can see them.”
“You’re keeping her memory alive as best as you can, Best Dad.”
“Yeah, but I still wish they could have met her.”
“Well, that’s not the way our world works, is it?”
“Nope, it isn’t. So they’ll never have the clarity of memory that I have of my grandmother. But a little piece of her will be passed on to them one way or another. That has to be enough.”


Angie said...

My children will never get to know my grandmother either. She did get to meet my son before she passed but he wasn't old enough to remember her. She was a fantastic gardener and I didn't get one iota of that gene! I can't grow anything. She did teach me how to cook a couple of things that were favorites of mine that I continue to cook myself. But there were a couple of things I never got around to asking her how to make. Like her biscuits for example. She always made the most amazing biscuits and mine are always crappy. I have to resort to buying the frozen kind. Oh, how I miss her!

angelaparsonmyers said...

We were fortunate that when my mother died a couple of years ago, my grandchildren were 11,12, almost 16 and almost 19. I have photos of four generations of women--now regret not forcing the boys to sit in on them. But they all have vivid memories of both her and my father, who died three years earlier. They all remember, in fact, staying at their house near Orlando and going to Disney World. Not a bad way to be remembered at all.

Jo said...

Sharing our lost family members with our children is almost a duty, I think. I love telling my kids (adults now) about my dad and my grand parents. They met some of them and have some memories of their own, but my dad died when they were young and mostly they remember my mom without him. They have some memories of him and our pictures help them to stay fresh.
As always, Kyle...wonderfully done.

The Frizzy Hooker said...

I pulled one of my grandfather's peony bushes out of their yard before he died. Every spring, I stare at it

Anonymous said...

My mom died when I was not yet 17, so my husband and children never got to know how amazing she really was. I resented that for a very long time.

Amy McMunn Schindler said...

I agree that I feel a duty to share the memory of family memories with our kids. I talk about them all the time,, making their names and memories common. Those memories explain who I am, who try are and perhaps some of who they will become. It's no substitute for the real thing, but perhaps a lesser extension of.

Susan said...

I love the way you use a narrator to help tell your story. I thought for a moment that the narrator was your grandmother.

Fabulous post!

Thanks for sharing!

Jenn said...

I think I am fortunate--because my Grandmother is 90 and they all have gotten to know her. She is wonderful--awesome human being--and I know what a blessing it is to get to share her with them (and vice versa).

Oh and guess what? I've given you an award!! YAY! Please stop by here to pick it up!

Cheers, Jenn.