Moments to Remember
"Why did you want to come here?” Jake squinted his eyes like he always did when asking questions.
The old man smiled, and the creases in his dark skin deepened. Reaching down, Clarence caressed his grandson’s hair.
"I want to tell you something, son.” Looking out at the lake, Clarence took a long breath and said, "This place has a lot of meaning to me. My grandpa used to bring me up here when I was a boy.”
Clarence’s old face seemed to soften, and his blue eyes seemed to sharpen to a young vigor. Jake followed the line of vision to old picnic tables ready to be replaced. In the small lake boats strolled along lazily as fishermen cast their lines into the water. Tall trees guarded the far shore. A large blue heron glided down and into a nearby alcove.
Standing, Jake rushed off down the hill to see the large bird.
Clarence watched the boy run down the hill, then turned his eyes back to the picnic tables. Suddenly they were not so old… just the memories they conjured seemed to come from a far off time.
Clarence saw his father casting a line out into the lake, showing the young boy how to work the pole. An older man sat at the table and watched the two. Echoes of laughter erupted around the shelter. Turning, Clarence saw his mother gesturing wildly to old friends. Little girls ran around trying to catch a small white butterfly.
"Mom! Mom!” a small blond boy was running recklessly from the lake, holding high a little blue gill he’d caught. "I caught a fish! Look!”
Mom’s eyes widened in pride and humor. "Wow… that’s a monster.” The adults laughed and the little boy beamed.
Clarence closed his eyes for a moment, a smile on his old face. When he opened them again his father was sitting alongside him. Brothers and sisters were here too. Their faces were older, less excited. Father said, "We’re all going to miss her… nothing will ever be the same.”
Sadness soaked into everyone’s eyes. Clarence closed his eyes again, but the smile had left his face. Moisture glistened along his eyelashes and his face seemed to tighten.
"Dad!” he said aloud.
"Grandpa!” said Jake, now standing in front of the old man.
Clarence opened his eyes again. Jake was squinting again.
"Do you have a Dad, grandpa?”
Chuckles erupted from the old man, then a few deep coughs that the young boy was too young to understand.
"Yes, Jake,” said Clarence, sweeping the boy into his arms. "I have a Dad. He was right here not that long ago.”
"Where is he now?”
Clarence sighed. "I wish I knew, buddy. But there are a lot of mysteries in our world… and sometimes the ones we love go away and never come back.”
"Where do they go?”
Looking off into the sky, Clarence said, "I think they go into your dreams and heart. They keep on reminding you to be a good person and to live a good life.”
"That’s weird. How do they get into your dreams?”
"That’s a good question Jake. I suppose you’ll have to figure it out in your life.”
There was a pleasant pause when the two sat together just happy for sharing company. Jake finally hugged his grandpa and said, "You know grandpa, I’m really happy you brought me here.”
"So am I.” He looked into the younger blue eyes and said, "So am I.”