Grandpa’s Leaves

Narrative to a memory and a thought on its power

“Slow down,” he says.

But I pedal away as fast as I can. The leaves crack beneath the plastic wheels I’m spinning and with each exhale a cloud of fog condenses on my forehead. I swerve this way and that; every lip on the sidewalk is a 20-ft jump in my mind. I am the world’s greatest captain, the best driver the universe has ever seen. Before I know it, the wheels are spinning so wildly that I must extend my legs out to either side to ensure the magic continues. In the same instant I close my eyes and all of a sudden I have bestrode a wild mare. She is flawless and as curious as the wind and we run together through forests of red, orange, yellow and green. The leaves brush our faces as they float to the ground in perfect pirouettes. I glance behind to have another look at the red-orange foliage and BAM! A wall.

He walks toward me and says, well, I can’t understand him. The words are all muddled together and it sounds like I’m listening to him through a wall filled with water. Words are not the basis of humanity however. I can feel him, his presence, his care, his love, his compassion. I think he’s checking on me.

His face is familiar and safe. Like a painting I cannot stop looking at, I know the lines of his smile, the texture of his hands, the rhythm of his speech. I know the essence of his person. I know there is deep love. He adores me as I so willingly and completely adore and trust him. A remnant of something I cannot seem to find anywhere else in this world.

Where has it gone, pure devotion? Is it as fleeting as it feels? have I reached the terminus of this search empty-handed? How could it have been my companion once and yet evade me now? I want the search to end, but this is not the end that I intended, not the finale I’d hoped for. Where can I now go for the warmth and comfort that old paintings, oversized sweaters, and the smell of books fail to supply?  

Here. I go to my memories. So full of leaves and love. For they are as alive as is tomorrow, are they not?

We embrace, he takes my hand and we stroll back up the seemingly mile-long driveway; back to his chair and the starting line for my motorcycle… or was it a moose… no, no it was a dragon. I take a deep breath and push off down the mountain and into the temporarily unknown world before me.

By Meaghan Weldele

Written 2 October 2017

Photo: Yorkshire Dales, United Kingdom

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