Sunday, January 25, 2009

Day One

"Every moment of light and dark is a miracle" - Walt Whitman

Please forgive the length of today's post, but to understand the events that follow, one must understand the value of it's being.  

If this house could talk, it would tell the tale of a great many lives.  I know very little about the people who spent time here before my family, but their stories are hidden within its walls just like mine.  My Grandfather bought this home and the farm it stands on for $6,000 a very long time ago.  He built an empire here.  Not with money, but with memories and family.  He and his bride raised six children and all of their friends.  Those six children have brought back their 14 children to bare witness to the center of our families world.  The extended family reaches out into the multiple hundreds, and all know the value of Harley's Farm.  Everything we are, everything we have, everything that makes us the people we are, we owe to this location and the man who built it.  This is our beginning, and for some, our saviour.  

There are places on this farm that may not be appealing to you, but there are places on this farm that fill my heart.  Places that offered solitude, indifference, thought and freedom.

From the now gnarled tree below, I could climb to the top as a child and see the start of the universe that awaited me.  I felt I could see forever, and float off into dreams about where life would take me.  I shared this location with the deer, squirrels, wild turkey, rabbits, coyotes, and few other animals.  We crossed paths in peace, and understood the unwritten code of safety there. 

There are responsibilities on a farm that go unspoken, but are held in the highest regard by all who live upon it.  I knew this instinctively.  I fulfilled my duties with a full heart, and in return Grandpa gave me complete freedom.  I was taught the way of the land and how to live with it instead of simply upon it.  I would spend weeks on end living in the woods above inside the realm of nature, only to return each day to complete my chores.  Grandpa would wink at me as I walked back to the forest to spend another night with the world I loved.  Periods of my life were made complete by the trees, river and even the soil itself.  I even know where I want to be placed on this land when my time on earth comes to an end.  I will rest in eternity surrounded by my Grandfathers Eden.

Day One:

6:45 am I awoke to the sound of Grandpa in the kitchen.  I rolled over on the cot and said good morning.  In return, he flashed a wide teary eyed smile and said "My grandson is back!  I am sorry for the life you had to live and the cards you were dealt, but I feel somehow complete now that you are back."

We spent the morning talking about Grandpa's life.  I needed clarification on how he planned to live out his future.  When my Uncle Mark came in before chores, we solidified Grandpa's wishes.  He would not leave this house until the day of his death.  We were all in agreement, and Grandpa was happy.

My purpose in returning was two fold.  To ensure Grandpa's wishes were met, to the letter and to start filling in the last 20 years we had missed.  The first topic had been completed on the very morning of my arrival.  The second had also begun, but was taken slowly as to savor and understand the differing views.  To Grandpa I had become a man, and he treated me with that respect without a thought.  I belonged here, and he made sure everyone knew it.

We are a simple people.  We spend little time talking about emotion or world problems.  We tend to focus on our own lives and how they intertwine.  We do not hurt each others feelings if at all possible, and steer far and wide to prevent conflict.  To do this we use humor, of every kind.  We laugh to prevent sadness.  No topic is taboo, and all aspects of life are treated equally, no one is above a joke.  Having said this, please take the statements in the following blogs as a use of our humor tool and not a reflection of hatred.  Again, we are simple people and mean no harm.

I left Grandpa to help my Uncle Mark with chores, and asked him why Grandpa had the picture of Jimmy and I on the fridge.  Mark said "We all thought Jimmy was black".  Not a long answer but one that was understood.  The picture was there for all to see to clarify the truth.  "Why would you think Jimmy was Black?"  He told me that my brother had explained at a family function about my relationship with Jimmy.  I am not sure how or why it was mentioned, but that miscommunication kind of put me in an odd place.  Mark said "Hell, if your gonna be gay, we figured you wanted a man that was hung like a horse!"  To this I replied "and I got one!"  This conversation led to quite a few comical conversations.  For example, some day when I introduce Jimmy to my family, do I say "Everyone, this is Jimmy and he is white" or better yet "Howdy everyone, this is my partner Jimmy and he is a recovering african american!"

After chores we went back inside to spend more time with Grandpa.  The news was on quite loud in the kitchen and was covering our new president, a black man.  Grandpa said "Yep, he is gonna fix everything for us all now!  Not yet the president and already the sun is shining outside and it is not snowing.  He obviously has a good start!"  His comment was a little snide, and so I asked why.  Grandpa explained to me that Obama was like a city-fied salesman, lots of talk but no results.  Like the second coming of Jesus or something, he was going to snap his fingers and make the world right.  "I voted for Obama Grandpa, in the hopes that this mess we are in that Bush caused would be corrected!  Without Bush, Obama would not have to clean up anything!" I explained.  This ended our discussion of Obama.  Not because Grandpa felt I was a failure or because Obama was a black man, but because we instantly knew we could agree to disagree.

After the news got on our nerves (since we can only pick up one channel in the kitchen), Grandpa turned on the radio to Rush Limbaough.  After great accolades from Grandpa and Uncle Mark about Rush's greatness, I replied "it is nice to see he has recovered from that little problem with his illegal use of narcotics!"  That ended the topic of Mr. Limbaough, just as it did above.  We were really making headway here!

So, with the topics of religion, politics and ethnicity all put to rest, we were able to begin our reintroductions.  The chaos of our differential lives had been boxed up and hidden under the bed, and now we were free to cover the important topics, our lives.  I was back.  I was strong enough to stand firm with my beliefs and to validate that I was worthy.  No one questioned that, for they now knew what my life had been like and now was the time to begin healing.  With no finger pointing, no blame and no bitterness, I was accepted back.  My blood line intact and my husband completely noted as an in-law, I had nothing left to fear.  Break out the whisky and let the games begin!  (oh yes, they certainly did!!!)


Living on the Spit January 25, 2009 at 11:18 AM  

What a wonderful post, Predo! I was capitivated not only by the words, but the WONDERFUL photos! I would love to be at a place like that.

This series is going to be a beautiful reminder of home and gandpa!


Noe Noe Girl...A Queen of all Trades. January 25, 2009 at 11:24 AM  

Great post Predo! Welcome home and I'll drink to that! Cheers!

(Sometimes!) Serendipitous Girl January 25, 2009 at 1:47 PM  

You my darling are not a simple person--you are incredibly thoughtful, strong, kind and complex with an enormous heart.

That farm is BEAUTIFUL. Just like you.

I am SO glad you are getting this time and that your family is getting a chance to see the man they have missed out on for far too long.

(And P.S. Jimmy DOES have quite a bit of flaVAH.)

Lys January 25, 2009 at 3:15 PM  

Great photos and I'm thrilled that you and Grandpa got this time to get to know each other all over again.

Frita January 26, 2009 at 12:24 AM  

Wow, great post and beautiful pics! I love grandpa! more...more...

belladella January 26, 2009 at 8:52 AM  

I can't wait to hear more. The farm is beautiful. Just beautiful.

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