My mother's father passed away this morning. He had been in a coma the past few days after his car accident; story has it, his heart flatlined "a couple" times last night, but kept restarting itself. I don't know how feasible that really is, but you can be sure it is something I'll tell my grandkids.
Willy sent me the news. I walked outside, picked a pair of flowers and walked down to the river. I suspect I was looking for a sign of some sort, as romantics are wont. We have a giant swan that flies the river every day, and a handful of bald eagles. I had settled that seeing either would be a good omen of his passing.
When I was in college, there was a small campus chapel I'd skate to in the middle of the night whenever I was in need of solace. The doors were dark hammered tin depicting saints. Some nights I get to the chapel to find the doors locked. (It was usually 2AM, or so, so this wasn't unexpected.) But more nights than not, I'd get to the chapel to find the doors unlocked. On these nights I'd find my place among the dark pews, sit and think.
On nights when the doors were locked, I'd back down the steps, humbly accepting that I didn't really need solace, that I was just being melodramatic and self-absorbed (again). In this way, approaching the chapel and trying the doors became a sacred act, a spiritual referendum on my mental state.
I was looking for signs today when I went down to the river. Put the flowers in the water, one for Grant, one for his wife, and waited. No eagles. No swan. Just a referendum on my mental state.
And of course, signs never occur when you're looking for them. That's the first lesson.
I have my grandfather's hands. Large, ungainly, suited for hammering and prying, perhaps fighting. My mother has a photo of me, her premature baby, swaddled in a single one of Grant's hands. The same hands that I use to punch out words on a keyboard, but not artistic hands, by any stretch.
Walking back from river, I was struck by the Colorado sky, blue above the red cliffs to the north, and the white sandstone to the south, and green where the river runs. I turned around, scanning the sky, from horizon to horizon. And of course there wasn't a single cloud in the Colorado sky.
And that, I suspect, is the second lesson.
And so tonight, we'll be thinking of Grant Adams. We'll be recalling big hands and a big heart. Not a bad thing to remember a man by.