Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Scent of a Man

I thought about my grandpa today.

I had no good reason to think about him. He has, after all, been dead for almost 25 years. But I thought about him just the same.

This past week has been difficult--my emotions are all over the place--and at times like these, for whatever reason, I think about him.

I don't think about his last years, when cancer ravaged his body. I barely remember how he looked at the end. "Sickly" comes to mind when I think about his final days, but those aren't the days I remember.

Today, and like other days when I think about him, I remember him as a giant of sorts, vibrant, healthy, with a robust and contagious laugh. I remember his hands, holding me tight and swinging me toward the sky, flinging me in the air...flying toward space, then hurtling toward the ground, and a moment before hitting, those same hands scooping me up, bringing me in and crushing me to his chest for a bear hug.

I remember him telling me I was pretty.

He was the first person to put me in touch with my imagination--we used to build towers and castles out of beer cans. He was also the first person to ever tell me that I was so full of shit that my eyes were brown!

I remember sitting on his lap, feeling safe. Never before and not since have I ever felt that secure in a man's arms.

I remember feeling like a co-conspirator when he would do something silly...like the time he was grilling chicken in the backyard and dropped a chicken leg into a pile of dirt. He looked around, bent down and picked it up, then motioned for me to follow him. He swept me into the kitchen laughing and said, "Watch this!" He rinsed the chicken leg under cold running water, then shook it off and put it on a plate. He winked at me, picked me up, and said, "Don't tell your grandma. She doesn't need to know." Then he proceeded to walk back into the yard and hand the plate to my grandma. She ate the chicken.

I thought about all of this today in the early morning quiet while I pushed my cart through the grocery store. I had a small smile on my face, reminiscing, when it hit me. It was like I had run full-force into a concrete wall.

I smelled him.

I don't remember my grandpa wearing cologne, but I remember what he smelled like. And that scent, the first scent I associated with a strong man, hit me from all sides. I wanted to look around, but forced myself not to, knowing full well that grandpa wasn't there. I don't know who or what it was, but his scent was there.

I yanked my cart and hurried away, tears welling in my eyes. I kept my head down, knowing if I looked up, the tears threatening to spill over would start flowing. I paid for my groceries and made my way across the parking lot, the sun bouncing off my tears, making me see strange, diamond-like prisms.

When I finally pulled myself together, I got myself home, put away the groceries and then sat down to write this and it occurred to me that while he taught me much about great love...he later taught me much more about great loss.

I miss him.

1 comment:

Cheryl said...

I just caught up on a bunch of your posts. You're a wonderful writer. You're way too busy. I can't wait for your husband to get a job. You need some time for YOU!