He had forty-five minutes before he had to change clothes to join his wife for dinner at the local diner with her sister, his brother-in-law and adorable niece. Not enough time to read a chapter of Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain and feeling the call to the “typewriter” he began to write not knowing how to begin or how to end or what might happen in the middle.
Earlier today he had been reminded of his grandfather by the smell of tangerines. Walking down the aisle of his cavernous classroom while taking roll and warming up to the day’s psychology lesson with his students he was brought back to the grove. While these moments didn’t happen often, and oh, how even today he wished they had happened more often, the memories still smelled sweet and close to his soul. No remembrance of the conversations he had once had as a lost, lonesome, pensive, quiet boy as they strolled down a slight downhill to the giant lake at the bottom. What he remembered most were the emotions of that time.
The smell of tangerines, the sticky fingers and the sweet, tangy juice and spitting out seeds to leave just the pulp behind. Yeah, this citrus farmer’s grandson didn’t eat the “best part”, yet he wanted these moments to last forever and hoped with the hope of hopes that the walk would be long enough to make it “down to the lake”, down to Hancock Lake. These short moments were the memories of time long past of the love he felt from a grandfather, a love that would prove to outlast the separations and span across generations.
Only a year ago, he was burying his own father in a grave plot across that lake from the spot he used to walk to or hope a walk would last long enough to make it to. The lake was as blue as he could remember it. The wind through the ancient oaks surrounded by grove was as soothing as the wise voice of his papaw and he thought he could almost feel his comforting spirit moving through the trees. Surrounded by family history, still a mystery to a lost child of divorce, separated family, late night Christmas eve drives down the same rollercoaster roads, pit in stomach, reliving the separation with each reunion.
He was gone. The man whose last words were apologies, “I’m sorry son”, was being laid to rest today. Touching the casket to say Good-bye with fingers that were once sticky sweet and smelling the citrus notes in the air reminded him of lost days gone by, of the pure moments of unconditional love he felt from this man’s father that gave him strength to be a man.
Looking through the massive oaks, down a slight hill from where he sat surrounded by his own two sons at the bluest blue of that lake, his soul began swimming in elegiac dreams of what could have been and what now could be. Rest in Peace, Dad, Rest in Peace.