There in that place…

The days rush by, and I think about my grandnephew, whose days are unending, his nights just long enough to remember the tilled fields of spring followed by the green expanse of crops pulsating in summer’s breezes, broken only by the creek winding through our land connecting farm to farm where family wait for his return.

There in that place where even subtle sins are noted, he is lost amidst the many who are watched day and night yet never known beyond surveillance screens that reveal everything yet nothing of the boy he was when he became a man when he was barely more that just a boy.

Like any child who looks for love, he found it in the gentle words of his grandfather, who taught him how to put together and take apart the toys of boyhood one block at a time. And, as he grew older, he watched and learned under the gaze of his almost-dad, who was not there when the judge handed down the ruling that took him away from everything he loved.

He had looked for love so many times in the circle of other wounded children grown up, who saw each other through the glazed eyes of alcohol-induced laughter that hardly hid the pain that roiled deep inside. And the alcohol that took him away from the pain tore the best friend he had ever had from his days and his nights where now the constant glare of prison lights robbed him of the dreams he longed for.

He made himself remember the fresh smell of rain on tilled fields, the familiar aroma of oil and grease in his grandpa’s shop, the joyous atmosphere of family dinners and the sound of his mom’s laughter, the combine’s roar and the sound of the grain swirling up the auger to the bins. He thought of the clicking sounds Grandpa would make as they waited for their plates of BBQ to come at noon and the nudges in greeting from friends and farmers who filled the room from 12 to 1.

He remembered so much and then could take no more and waited in the still dorm as snoring ceased and breaths were held, as the dreaded prospect of one more endless day began.

O, Holy Father, just as Your Son burst forth from the grave, invade that stark place with the reality of Your Presence. Break into hearts and flood them with Your Perfect Love. Shatter the walls that conceal the men you created them to be, and destroy the plans of the enemy to steal, kill and destroy their very lives. Birth hope in jaded hearts this day, and set them aflame for You.

The Annual Memorial Day Drive-By

Across my shaggy lawn replete with an army of dandelion stems standing at strict attention, I watched the event unfold at 7 o’clock this morning. I’m referring to the annual Memorial Day Drive-By of my only living uncle, who snags one of his kids every year to chauffeur him the 10 miles north of his lake cottage on Tippy so he can get a good look-see at ‘Sara’s place’ just outside of Syracuse.

As in past years, an unrecognizable car drives by my property very slowly and predictably turns around in my neighbor’s drive two doors down so they can coast by this time at about 3 mph for Look #2. And just as in past years, the action is repeated at my neighbor’s lane to the south, and I see my uncle’s recognizable face plastered to the window of the small black car during Drive-By #3. I wait patiently here on the couch for the minute or less it takes them to turn around again for what turns out to be his final look-see.

I admit I feel sorry for whatever co-conspirator he forces to enable him to satiate his curiosity so he can pass judgment on whether or not the place is being ‘kept up’; but, really, his trip is at least partially pointless nowadays, since Mother, who looked forward to his reports each year, passed away nearly six years ago at 102. Maybe he thinks he will be able to give an accounting to her on the state of the property she purchased and put in trust for my children when he joins her in the Great Beyond someday, but surely he will have better things on his mind then.

I pause to remember that my uncle is almost 89, still actively farming and calling the shots of his and his grandson’s successful seed corn business. Furthermore, last Thanksgiving when I dropped by his home place, it was surprisingly apparent that he had mellowed way more than I ever thought was possible.

“Give him a good day with his kids and grandkids,” I say to the only One whose opinion about my life matters. “And next year, would it be too much to ask to prompt him to call me beforehand and say he wants to drop by for a visit? I’ll make sure the lawn is freshly mowed and the coffee on.”