Monday, September 1, 2008

It Brings Tears To My Eyes

Twice in the last couple of weeks I've teared up at the sight of two different frail little old men in one piece jumpsuits leaning on their grocery carts, all alone, in the grocery store. Their thin, short, white hair and their bruised, wrinkled arms and faces and the shuffling walk as they tried to find what they wanted in the newly reorganized grocery store that was probably familiar to them last week.... Yeah, it's been one of those weeks and those little old men reminded me of my dad who died in 2003. Then I remember how impatient I was with my mother (who died in 2000), as I hear the same impatience in my own son's voice and wish there were "do-overs". Then I was re-reading my daughter's blog (she posted this entry last year) and the dam of tears broke. It's very eloquent and I'm going to post it here - I'll tell her later. She wrote it so well and it speaks of a captured moment of time, regret and happiness.

"If I could take a snapshot of my 20 year old self that would encompass everything I thought I was at this point in life this is what it would look like:

An above-average height girl, still slim, but without the athletic edge to the look anymore. Fair-skinned and proud. Eyes more green than ever. Her mother's nose, still dotted with some childish freckles. Slender fingers just beginning to show age. Two crooked pinkies from years of basketball. Thick golden brown hair with a slight red hue in the right light, barely touching the middle of the back when straightened. A comfortable smile . . . and semi-straight teeth thanks to high-school braces :-). An aura that lets you know things have, if even for just a little while, fallen into place. Call it my own paranoia, but those laugh lines and crows feet have started to show. I personally, find them endearing. They show that you have actually lived-and enjoyed it! But, I will note that I purchased my first tube of anti-wrinkle face lotion: gasp!

There are so many stories that only my eyes and soul can tell, and they too will one day be lost with time. I could write out a poetic or catchy paragraph about all the profound things I've experienced and seen, but that wouldn't suffice. Overall, I realize that I too have stories and images shaping my thoughts that no other person has. I never knew my grandfather as anything but the good ol' Kentucky man, who loved his wife, loved his religion, loved his one piece jumpers and his buttermilk with cornbread. He lived a whole lifetime before I knew him. I didn't know him as the war veteran, as the prison guard, as the boy flirting with my grandmother and playing ball with other kids, and teaching my mom how to drive a Volkswagen bug up a hill in Tallahassee. I remember him as an avid Cardinal's fan, a man who cried because he couldn't fix his own meals because his wife was no longer there to do it for him. A frail, right shoulder slightly drooped, man who had trouble holding conversations with his own brother in the same room because he couldn't hear him very well. That's not the man he was in his own eyes. In his eyes, he was still the man that I never got a glimpse of.

I won't always be the still slightly slim girl with a freckle dotted nose, and red hue to my long hair, but to me, that's who I am, that's who I'm going to always be. My eyes and soul will always have the same stories and experiences to share . . . until I no longer can." -- by Riley Atchley


Terry Thornton said...

DEB, Thanks for posting this --- you have reason to be proud of both your dad and of your daughter. And I think the recollection touches upon one of those universals that most of us don't acknowledge --- the elderly among us see themselves as they used to be not as they are now.

Riley's two sentences "That's not the man he was in his own eyes. In his eyes, he was still the man that I never got a glimpse of" cuts to the essence of this situation.

Terry Thornton

Linda in Lancaster said...

I enjoy reading your blog… and have “tagged” you with the “I Heart Your Blog” award. You can find the details on my blog "Axer to Ziegler"
What a sensitive blog. I can relate!

Mark Grubbs said...

I am glad I am not the only one. If I am in a restaurant and see an elderly person sitting alone it causes me to tear up. I think of how lonely dad must have been at mealtime after mom passed and that I should have visited more frequently. As a young adult getting frustrated with my mother and telling her to "shut up" and hurting her feelings, I would give anything for a do-over just to go back and tell her how much I love her. I wish my 3 year old could meet his grandparents that I will tell him so much about as he grows up.

Thank you for your post.


Becky said...

I sometimes look in the mirror and wonder who that person is staring back at me. I don't always see the same person in the mirror that I see in my mind's eye. And I know, that the day will come when I can't see me at all, or at least the person I think I was/am. It's sad. But it's life. And time marches on...