Growing up, I lived near my grandparents--a short walk for me in the middle of the country. They owned 120 acres, living on one of the 40s, and we lived on the neighboring forty, with fields and woods in between. Great way to grow up.
I wrote this poem about my grandfather, in college. I think it sums up my memories quite well.
I remember walking through the woods with my grandfather, his pace slow to allow my tiny legs to keep up.
I remember the acrid smell of Autumn leaves, falling around us in a multicolored blanket, as he showed me the birch, the poplar and the pine.
I remember the whiteness of Spring lilies, poking up from the denseness of the forest floor.
I remember the patience of my grandfather as he taught me the bird song of the swallow, the chickadee and the robin.
I remember the buzz of yellow bees, flying among the acres of orange Indian paintbrush, purple fireweed, and yellow buttercups.
I remember the sound of our laughter, as my cousins and I played in Nature's bounty, unaware in childhood of what would make this time and place so special to us in adulthood.
I remember the love and acceptance of my grandfather, as he taught me how to understand Nature, and in turn, know myself.
I remember adolescence, with all the tumult and rebellion it brought into my life, and into the lives of those around me.
I remember grandfather, teasing me out of moods and laughing with me about old Danish settlers, taking me into his past with grace and understanding.
I remember spending the night with my grandparents, thinking myself too old for such things, yet loving the time playing cribbage with Gramps long into the night.
I remember feeling more secure in my grandfather’s presence than I would for many years to come.
I remember being twenty-one, hearing with pain of my grandfather’s cancer, knowing he would die too soon.
I remember the cold rain on the day of his funeral, as Nature joined our family in mourning her lost son.
I remember with pain the sound of my grandmother’s voice as she told me not to cry as we drove away from the cemetery.
I remember my recognition of my grandmother’s generosity, comforting me after losing her life partner of 52 years.
I remember finally appreciating the strength of my grandmother as we both reluctantly learned to let go.
I remember a twinge of conscience as I learned to go forward with my life, without the guidance that had led me into adulthood.
I remember my childhood wistfully, seeing now that I was given much more than I had realized at the time.
I remember freedom and laughter, and a peace that sometimes escapes me now as the days fly by.
I remember being one with the woods, in a time when the best friend you could have was a sheepdog named Spike.
I remember the wonder of squirrels and deer, woodchucks and bear.
And I remember my grandfather, knowing that his wisdom and teaching has made me the woman I am today.