Good Friday is a significant day to me. For a few reasons. Obviously, as this blog itself is testament to, my faith is a significant part of my inner life, and Good Friday is the pinnacle of that faith.
Good Friday is also the day that my grandfather passed away, twenty-three years ago. I was ten. In my ten years up until that day, my grandfather had endeared himself to me time and again. I'm not sure what it was - a lot of the things characteristic of him are traits that irritate me in others, actually. He was a prankster, and I hated when my mom, his daughter, would pull the same style of pranks. I cried for a day after a prank by some well-meaning college friends. Yet my grandfather could jump out from behind a door at me leaving a restaurant and I thought it was amazing. He drew a mustache on my school picture, and it made me feel loved. He did traumatize me with his false teeth once, but his teasing and jokes didn't bother me the way they did/do from anyone else. (Looking back, I wonder if the way his death affected me changed my personality in that area. I wonder if I was more carefree before I realized what death was, making it easier for me to take a joke back then.) He was completely golf-obsessed, and I hate when my brother, uncle, dad, husband talk/think/watch/analyze/breathe sports. With my grandfather, though, I adapted to his sports-crazy world. I learned to watch golf, I knew the pros' names, I had a crush on Payne Stewart, I practiced my own golf swing, I took care of the clubs he made for me, I begged him to let me drive the golf cart any chance I got. There is nothing inherently in golf as a sport that appeals to me - it was my grandpa's sport, so I immersed myself.
Ten years old. There are so many conversations I wish I could have had with him now that I'm old enough to remember what he says. He told me about his life and his time in the service for a school project once. He went through a box of old trinkets from his past and let me keep a few to use in my project. I don't remember a word of what he told me. I have a faded memory of a paratrooper pin he gave me which is long lost. I wasn't old enough to have the weight of remembering that one conversation entrusted to me, and I know there are countless others I don't remember enough to even know I'm forgetting them.
My point, before I digress too far, is this. On Good Fridays I drive. Ever since I've been able to drive. I drive to the country, I listen to good music, and I think. About everything. Some years about life, some years about death, some years about him, some years about me, some years about God. I talk to my grandfather, I fill him in on my life, what he would think about the people he's never met - my husband, my kids. I try to remember what he looked like. I sing to him sometimes. I journal. I pray. I've been known to talk to a cow or two in a nearby field. It's frequently raining, and I figure that's fitting seeing as he liked to mess with me.
Ten years old. I have had tears streaming down my face as I write this, about a person who has not walked this earth for twenty-three years, who managed to mean enough to me in the span of ten years, including the few years it took for me to even be aware of things beyond sippy cups and colors, that his presence in my heart identifies me, and that Good Friday is my day to drive, and think.
Today, my boys came with me on my "Adventure" (as I pitched it to them). With one of them asleep in his carseat, the other quietly contemplating my description of country life - how his great-grandmother walked to the school there on the left, from the farm up here on the right, even to that church we were just at up the road, and no, there aren't a lot of houses out here, but there are a lot of trees, yes - and as he quietly sat thinking, I turned up the bluegrass radio station just as a song started, and I heard God. Not the God who speaks words. I've heard Him in songs before. The God who just is.
The Great Remember. Take that as you will - a person you are remembering, a moment or experience, what those who have known you for ten years will remember of you, an inner struggle or victory you don't want to forget ... Whatever it is, I pray that as you listen, you hear God today.
Good Friday, everyone.
The Great Remember (for Nancy)
(I was unaware at the time of hearing this song that it was by Steve Martin, written in memory of the wife of Martin Short. Two bona-fide comedians. Well played, my prankster grandfather. Well played.)