Monday, August 25, 2008

Grandfathers






”You have a real affinity for Trees, don’t you?” PP asked, as she rose to exit Utopia.

Amazon Tree Woman beamed, nodding in serious agreement.

PP continued, “I remember your story about how when you were a girl you sat under a tall tall tree and that’s how you got your long long legs!” PP grinned as ATW’s eyes opened in wide amazement.
“You remember That story?”
”I remember all the Stories!” PP exclaimed. Little did ATW realize!
“That’s amazing,” she smiled, her eyes shining, as she sat up briefly, adjusting her towel.
“And this last story you just told me is so wonderful,” PP continued. “Trees have that mythical quality to them, don’t they?”
“Yes, they certainly do. You are absolutely right,” she murmured, carrying PP back to the story she’d just told about her grandfather:

“We lived on Long Island, and Girl, it Snows there!” ATW laughed as PP nodded, eager for another story from her.
“Snow?” PP shook her head. “I remember visiting Long Island once, a long time ago, and it snowed. I was so amazed by the way it fell from the sky. All soft and quiet. Being a California Girl, I’d never seen such a sight.”





“Yes. It’s lovely. But let me tell you about my Grandfather…..”

ATW’s voice became soft too, like the snow.

“He was a man who could do anything. And he always told all us kids how we could do anything too. But that’s another story!” She laughed, delighted by this oft-told adage. “Anyways, he had this Avocado Tree. And she was so lovely. (Immediately, PP picked up on the feminine pronoun, ‘she’. Of course the avocado is female! With her rounded bottom, slim waist and coy little top head!”) And every year, before it snowed, my Grandfather would wrap Her up with a blanket and then place a tarp around Her and to keep Her safe from the cold.”

“It was like he was putting Her into Hibernation!” PP exclaimed, mesmerized by the image of this grandfather wrapping up his precious avocado tree.

ATW nodded, struck by PP’s assessment, but then going right with it. “Yes! He would hibernate Her. Every year. And he would tell us kids how this just showed you how you could do anything if you took care. You could grow an avocado tree in the middle of the coldest winter on Long Island, or you could grow yourself into the strongest person no matter what the obstacles. You just had to take the right care…..”

Her voice trailed off and PP could tell she was back on Long Island, a little girl, watching her grandfather lovingly wrap the Avocado Tree up to protect against the winter’s ferocity.

Watching her drift back to that time, PP tried to follow her. She saw the lovely little avocado tree, vulnerable and brave against the stark white background, wrapped up so tenderly in the dark tarp, the grandfather and his granddaughter, hand in hand, tromping out between snow storms to check on Her. The grandfather, for a moment, letting go the granddaughter’s hand, to bend and check up on Her. Testing the tarp’s bindings. Making sure She was safe while the Granddaughter watched. It was an ordinary wintertime ritual for them, but for PP there was a magical quality to the image.

For a moment, she tried to remember if she had any such memory of her grandfather……and interestingly enough, one does come to mind though it’s not around a tree, but a motorcycle of all things! (PP loathes motorcycles, but that’s definitely another story!)

PP remembers an afternoon, when she was a little girl, visiting her grandfather in Whittier California, and how he took her for a ‘ride’ on his motorcycle up and down the alley behind his house. PP was thrilled and scared to be zooming down the alley holding tight around her grandfather’s waist, feeling the wind against her cheek, and the safety of his broad back protecting her.





Was it the same as ATW’s story of her grandfather? Maybe. Maybe not. But there is a pull there. A tie to the generation that’s farther away. PP’s grandfather was someone she never knew well. Someone she was a little intimidated by even. But yet….she had this memory. This almost mythical feeling that comes back to her when she remembers this afternoon, on his motorcycle, zooming down the alley behind Milton Street, on a breezy, California afternoon.

PP glanced over at ATW, still in a reverie, her eyes sparkling, and far away, to the little Avocado Tree on the snow covered hillside, and a grandfather, caring and wise, who taught the little girl that anything was possible, if you just took the right care….


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