The nine year old and I moved to the American Southwest a year ago. It took, though, till mid-October for the movers to arrive with our things from Montreal. By then I was in the grip of teaching full-time and was far too swamped to unpack very thoroughly, or settle in as well as I'd like. We unpacked well enough to look like a genuine liveable house, but there have been boxes in various corners since. In the spring, I rearranged some of my bedroom with the result that some of those boxes ended up in the middle of my bedroom floor. Then travels interupted the rearranging process and the boxes were left there in the middle of the floor. The nine year old's room went through a similar phenomenon. Tonight we're sorting through our bedrooms to make them comfortable again for the new year.
My childhood was lucky enough to include multiple generations and numerous relatives. I grew up close to my grandparents, great grandparents, uncles, aunt, and cousins. I'm so grateful. In my early twenties the last of my grandparents died. It was a difficult transition to face in that it wasn't only his passing, but also what felt like the ending of my childhood. I told my good friend Marcus that my grandfather's death felt like the removal of a whole generation ahead of me that had stood between me and whatever could go wrong in life. The guidance, protection, sheltering, and love that I'd received from a couple of generations above my parents had passed with him too. Their wisdom is still with me insofar as I took it in, but the physical presence of it had gone. The last Christmas before his death, my grandfather had sent me an adorable cartoony Christmas card cut out to the shape of a snow man, and unfolding in multiple stages to images of the snowman dancing in well wishing happiness. The card was particularly cute because it was clearly far too young a card to send to me at that point of my life. It was like he was making the point of reminding me that even if I'd grown up he still loved me like a little one. Inside he'd placed a twenty dollar bill, and then signed the card "xx Love Papa oo." We called him Papa instead of Grandfather. I'd kept the $20 because I felt that having the physical gift he gave me would be worth more to me than spending the money. That was fourteen years ago. This morning the thought of that card came to mind. Tonight while unpacking a box in the middle of my bedroom I discovered the card, the $20 and the signature still intact.
It warms me to know that in the midst of everything we've adjusted to in the last year living in a new town, a very different place than the Montreal we'd gotten used to, there near me, in my bedroom all along were my grandfather's hugs, kisses, and gift of wealth wishing me love. To be well.