I was very small.
“You have to keep your eyes open,” she said.
I assured my grandma that I would.
“Not everything is what it appears to be, but His eyes are always open.”
I smile. “Agates look just like regular rocks,” I said. “And remember those flies that look like bees?”
And in my mind’s eye, I can see her hand come toward me. I close my eyes as she slips a work-worn hand under my chin, open them to smile at her as she bends down to give me a kiss…
I went to two funerals on Saturday.
I grew up on funerals: The elderly, the young, babies and children. The smell of flowers and Lutheran potluck, red-rimmed eyes and black clothing.
I weep openly at funerals, not for the departed, but for those left behind, for the bewildered woman seated at the front who will wander into the living room next week with an unopened jar of pickles, forgetting for just a moment…
The next day, I go grocery shopping. I pull into the parking lot, park nose-to-nose with another car. Her grocery cart sticks out, just a little, and she smiles at me as she moves it closer to her own car, ensuring that I won’t accidentally hit it. Overhead is a bright blue sky; and while the uncharacteristic 47 degrees is a treat, the warmest it’s been for perhaps six months, it is a somber day, a funeral-hangover of a day.
The woman in front of me is loading the last of her bags as I exit my car.
“I hope I’m not in your way,” she says, smiling.
I smile back. “No, no, you’re fine.”
I see the box in her back seat, and the words are out before I can stop them. “Is that a peacock feather?”
She turns to look, then looks at me oddly. “Yes,” she says. “I’m not sure why I have it. A friend gave it to me along with the rest of the junk in that box, and I just loaded it into my car today thinking I’d drop it off at a thrift store or something.”
The wind lifts, and I push the hair out of my face.
“Hey,” she says. “Would you like it? I think it’s for you.”
And I hear my grandma’s reminder. And I know this woman is right.
“Yes,” I say. And then I laugh. “I don’t know why, but yes.”
I approach her, and she reaches into her car. She holds the feather out to me. "Looks like an eye, doesn't it?" She puts a hand on my shoulder, and I do the same.
Her dark brown eyes look into mine. “Have a blessed day,” she says.
And for a moment, I feel my grandmother’s hand under my chin.