Sunday, December 13, 2009

In Their Bones

Trevor and Hobie

Look closely. I do. When he's not looking, I search the curve of his chin, the color of his eye, the tilt of his nose. He doesn't know that I do this. No one does.


Am I there? Some hint of me that will pass on, when I'm gone? This beautiful boy, this vessel, my family, my hope...will he and his brother remember enough to tell their children, if I never meet them? Will I meet them? Will they remember?


On Saturday night, we took the boys to my daughter's open house at work, where we saw the fork lift she drives, and the huge warehouse where she works. They ate cheese and cookies, vegetables and dip, drank punch and soda, and saw Santa. The older one, Jared, had to be persuaded to sit on Santa's lap, and did so with an amused and slightly indulgent air though the little one, Trevor, smiled his brightest smile, and wished his brightest wishes that night. He's just beginning to be self-conscious; his school picture this year sports some odd manipulation of his haircut that I'm sure was unsanctioned by his mother. He's becoming himself. Am I in there somewhere? He's seven now. Will he remember me?


On the drive home Peter, Jared, Trevor and I were tired and not looking forward to the hour's drive home in the car. Peter plugged in the GPS to find our way in the dark, and Jared was interested in it, so we switched seats. I told him it was the world's slowest video game, and he laughed; I left him to the front seat to discuss satellites and left turns, road maps and 2-D views with his Grandpa Peter. I sat in the dark, deep backseat, in the quiet with Trevor, our youngest, our last grandchild. I stroked his hair, and he fell asleep, his head tilting in the moonlight. With each streetlamp, I watched his face come into the light then fade: the long eyelashes of youth, the full cheeks, the thick, soft hair; and I knew that this child might be the last one to really know me, to know my blood, to have clear memories of the hands that held him throughout his life, the smell of the goats on my coat, the dinners I made for him, the homework we did together. Who else will know me after him? My boys, my heart. Will I ever know him, the grown man? Time will tell.


I clearly see myself in my daughter's eyes. I feel her nearly as well as I feel myself. I confuse our memories and the pictures of us as children, sometimes. These boys are more removed, but still parts of the same whole; family, our blood, our line. And as fractured as I've made it, as difficult and dysfunctional as the years have proven for me and mine, this thing remains: I know myself through my daughter's and grandsons' eyes, and the curves of their bones. I know myself through the little hands that reach for me in their sleep, and through the sharp, thin shoulders that relax under my hands. I know their smells and their dreams, and they are a part of me. And I am a part of them...and theirs...for one more generation. Do we really remember longer than that, as a species? It's the rare story that transcends immediate memory. It's a story of photos, and songs, and traditions, but not the feel of a hand, or the blue of an eye. I'm happy to see the love in their blue eyes. And I hope, for awhile, they'll remember mine...and maybe tell the stories of our times together to their children. My hearts. My hope. My family.

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