everything is temporary
That's what the philosophers say, right? Live in the now, because the past is gone, the future is an illusion. I'm trying to learn that, because I believe it's true.
My father's father, when he was dying, talked to me about the peach tree he grew. He longed for it. It seemed to symbolize his whole life; he grew it from a peach that he ate. He planted it. He grew it into a tree, and he ate peaches off that tree. His boys ate peaches off that tree. And now, the tree was gone, and he was dying.
He was dying, and that tree was one of the most meaningful things in his life. He missed the tree.
I remember him talking about the tree, and I had no memory of the peach tree. I barely have any memory of exactly what he said about the peach tree. The tree was gone.
And his story, about the peach tree, is also practically gone.
I remember my Grandfather very well. He was an important, although quiet, part of my childhood. He was happy; he was kind. He was earnest. He made me sing "Ain't She Sweet" with him, when I was little. He warmed my milk with a little bit of coffee, because he thought it wasn't good for someone to drink cold milk on a cold day. And he went and got crumb buns at the bakery, because he knew I liked them, and he showed me how to cut them in half, butter the middle, and put the crumb side down on the buttered part, so none of the crumbs fall off. My Grandfather, when he retired, grew beautiful vegetables in a tiny little backyard; tomatoes, and stringbeans, especially. And during the winter, he made photo collages and hung them all over the walls of his garage.
He told me a few stories. He told me that his boys weren't allowed to join the regular little league, because they weren't "white" enough in his neighborhood. They were half italian and half american indian. So he helped start another league for them, where they were allowed to play. And he told me about when he was young, working for the factory - Bristol-Myers -- and he was the elevator operator, and someone was banging on the elevator, "and whaddya know? It was Mr. Bristol, Himself!" And when he was really hard up, and he needed money for his sick wife, Mr. Bristol lent him the money, and he paid it off a little at a time out of his pay check -- but Mr. Bristol gave him a raise, so he didn't really pay, not really.
All of those years and all of those stories of my grandparents, and they are gone. There is a ghost of a memory in my heart of the things that they told me, and the ghost lingers, but they are long gone. It is the way that it is.