Monday, 21 March 2011
I saw the first dragonfly this weekend...
I was sitting on the front porch Saturday afternoon, talking to my dad and soaking up some much needed vitamin D, while Lola playfully nipped at my toes. J was inside watching a movie, Jr. was with his momma and Don was still working out of town.
I love my conversations with my dad. We had just finished talking about him moving closer to us, which thrilled me, and had moved on to discuss my Aunt K and how we wished my cousin Jamie (her son) could get his life together.
Some insect was buzzing around my head and it wasn’t until it finally settled in front of me that I realized it was a baby dragonfly. It was tiny, no more than two inches in length, one of those plain little black ones with the yellowish specks. I was excited to see it. It was after all, the first indication of spring for me. We sat there, that little dragonfly and me, and looked at each other until Dad and I wrapped up our conversation, then I bid it farewell and headed into the house.
I piddled around the house a little, checked out facebook and went to find my phone so I could make a call. I noticed a missed call from my dad. I thought it odd that he would call right back. We talk only a couple times a month, as neither of us likes to spend much time sitting around chatting. But, I called him back, just the same.
“Your Aunt K called right after I got off the phone with you,” he said. “Jamie is gone.” Then he proceeded to explain what had happened. It hasn’t even been a year since she lost her husband.
It’s not my story to tell but, I wish I could.
My dad’s side of the family scares me. Men and women, all living hard and dying young; my brother and I seeming to be two of the few of our generation who were able to break the vicious cycle that has plagued our lineage. I’m thankful every day for my mother. Without her we couldn’t have done that.
My grandfather was my age when he died. He was driving home from his baby sister’s funeral when he wrecked his car. He was thirty-eight. She was thirty-four. Of their siblings, only two remain. Hard living, car wrecks, heart attacks and strokes killed them all.
My great-grandfather outlived his wife and all but three of his eight children. But he spent the last 20 something years of his life confined to a chair due to stroke, and couldn’t speak except to say three phrases. Wanna know what they were?
1. Now woman! (To my Aunt Dot when she wasn’t giving him what he wanted--usually his eggs at breakfast)
2. By God listen! (When “now woman” didn’t work)
3. Shit (when 1 or 2 wasn’t working and he realized he was defeated)
He died in August of 1987. He was 82. I’m not sure if he was a great guy. I wouldn’t dare ask my older relatives if he was, but something tells me, from small bits of family conversation, that he most likely wasn’t. And maybe because he was a man who couldn’t find anything to say except three ugly phrases to the one daughter who was willing and able to care for him.
There are fonder things I remember though. He was a funny old man who always wore denim coveralls; a man whose face would light up and he’d get a big grin every time I walked into the room. I’d always make some time to sit with him, even if it was just to sit in silence and watch The Young and the Restless.
*sigh* I seem to have gotten off topic but, after dad relayed the news to me, these are the things I thought about. These things, and my oldest son who seems to be trying to carry on the family tradition. Then I wondered if the cycle would ever be broken.
I managed to hold it together until J went to bed that night and then, somewhere around 9 o’clock, when the house was quiet, I remembered that little dragonfly that sat on the porch looking at me and I lost it. I felt the walls close in on me and grief and fear wrapped its angry fist around my heart as I began to cry.
I don’t do this very often and, even now, I’m not sure who I cried more for. Was it my Aunt? Maybe my cousin? Was it my oldest son, D? He and Jamie aren’t so different. Or, was it me?
Perhaps I won’t ever be able to answer that.
What I do know is that I really haven’t been in a good place since then. I’m kinda quiet and reserved, and I had a hard time leaving my children and my husband to go to work this morning, as if I need constant reassurance that my family is OK, that I’m OK.
For the remainder of the weekend I felt like one of those needy women I abhor. Every time I was in the vicinity of my husband or children I had to reach out and touch them to make sure they were really there. All through church yesterday morning, gripping Don’s hand like I thought God might swoop down and whisk him away then and there.
I think I need a little time to get my mind right before I post again. So, if you don’t hear from me much this week, I’m still here and will post again soon. I’ve just got to find some perspective. Who knows, I might find it tomorrow. It might not be until next week. Either way, it’s just a quick mental/emotional walkabout, and I’ll be back.
Posted by Erica Tomlin