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Monday, March 9, 2015

On Keeping My Eyes Open

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. 


29 comments:

vanilla said...

Beautiful!

Delores said...

And now I'm sniffling...not a day goes by without someone's blog post touching my heart.

Pearl said...

vanilla, thank you!

Delores, I've been kinda think-y lately. ;-)

joeh said...

I always cry at funerals, even when I barely knew the deceased.

I was taught that feathers are a sign of those passed. I never believed it, but they do seem to appear when least expected.

John said...

Really nice. Grandmas never really go away.

Pearl said...

joe, is that right? It was such a strange encounter at the grocery store...

John, no, they don't....

Shelly said...

I don't know exactly why, but this made me cry, right here in the dr.'s office.

ThreeOldKeys said...

This reminds me of the rainbow we saw while driving home a few hours after the funeral for a beloved grandpa. That rainbow was just for me and my kids, and no one can say otherwise.

jenny_o said...

Wonderful essay; emotional and hopeful and tinged with the unknown. I'm sorry for your loss.

Joanne Noragon said...

I like kind people.

Geo. said...

You've had some sadness. My sincere condolences, Pearl.

Catalyst said...

Nice.

sage said...

Hugs for the sadness and smiles for the beautiful tribute and how you weaved it all together.

Nancy/BLissed-Out Grandma said...

I've been living in the land of funerals lately, too. What a lovely story!

Elephant's Child said...

Oh Pearl. Misty eyes here.
Love that you received (and recognised) that gift.

Yamini MacLean said...

Hari OM
Mysterious ways... Blessings to you Pearl. YAM xx

Jono said...

I hate to tell you, but these days get more common as you age. They often take the nasty right out of you (sort of like a hot sauna) and put a softer, kinder aura about you. These moments always help me to be a little nicer and a little more thoughtful. Thanks, Pearly girl.

Gigi said...

Ah, Pearl. I'm sorry for the losses that found you at two funerals in one weekend.

Glen said...

you got me :-)

Lin said...

Aw, what a sweet post, Pearl. Sorry about the funerals lately...that sorta stinks. But I'm glad you got a wink from your G'ma in the midst of it.

Should Fish More said...

Pearl, I don't often comment, but I've read your blog for well over two years now. I've descerned a change some months ago in style and content.
You think that's accurate?
Mike

River said...

oh my goodness! Your grandmother was right there, giving you that peacock feather through that woman. You are so lucky! Tears in my eyes here.

raymond alexander kukkee said...

Pearl, your writing is so poignant, so human, so perfect. And beautiful. Wonderful. We never do forget the touch of the beloved, do we...

Rose L said...

sobbing sound and tears dropping down my face

Suldog said...

Wonderful tale. There are angels all around us. We just sometimes have to (as was said here) keep our eyes open for them.

Jean Lorbiecki said...

I love seeing things that remind me of my grandma and bring me back close to her...Thanks for this one!

Jo-Anne Meadows said...

I liked this

jeanie said...

A thank you from me also - such a beautiful picture is painted with your words.

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

I was at a funeral 2 weeks ago and yes, that's exactly the heartbreak of it. The person left behind.