i had a lunch date with my grandma today. every time i am back in minnesota we carve out a couple hours to grab a meal or a cup of coffee. i usually pick her up and help her down the front steps of her porch but today she requested that i meet her at the back door. her knees are beginning to fail her and, without the help of the railing in back, the front steps are getting a bit tricky for her to navigate.
i hadn't been in that backyard in years. i have early memories of planting sunflowers with my grandpa along the fence that separates her yard from the neighbors. a motorcycle ride that my uncle peter took me on started in the alley that the house backs up to. my brothers and i used to chase each other in circles around the house waving ancient tennis rackets we dug out of the garage (OK, there was some minimal hitting going on with these rackets).
there are no more sunflowers. there haven't been since my grandpa passed away a decade ago. there are no more motorcycle rides, just a rusty old frame that is screeaaammming "tetanus". there are no more 3 foot tall humans running around, no more "moooooom, joe hit me!!" being yelled through the screen door. what was once thriving looked abandoned. then out of the corner of my eye, this:
near the door, on the sidewalk, in the corner. treasure. my grandpa's handwriting.
robert conlin. july thirteenth, nineteen sixty five.
a little piece of life remains.