When I was a child, I used to relish this time of day. Early afternoon, school finished, playing whatever I wanted to or working on homework. My parents coming home, spending time with my grandparents and asking my grandfather for cookies. The man loved Pecan Sandies and he always “charged” me a quarter for each cookie I wanted. That was one of my favorite memories. The faux outrage as I stole the cookie anyway, smiling and laughing the whole time. His laugh because he wasn’t serious and he knew I would take the cookie anyway. A shared sweet between us, the treat we loved to have together. It wasn’t about the cookie. It was about US.
This morning, I went to my mother’s house to drop off my son and sitting on her bench was the very cookie jar I used to steal my treasure from. Inside she put a package of Pecan Sandies and a note that said, “Cost ya a quarter!” The tears sprung to my eyes so fast it stung. I hadn’t thought of those moments with my grandfather in years and that little vessel held more than the remnants of cookies: it held the memories of my childhood with one of my favorite people in the whole world.
I was only 11 when I lost my grandfather and my entire world collapsed that day. I knew he had been sick but I never saw my grandfather as anyone mortal. I believed he would make it through anything. I never had my real goodbye. I never paid him his dues for the cookies. I miss him still. I think of what my life would have been like had I had a few more years of his guidance. He was an uncomplicated man, direct with is words, firm in his faith, astute in his knowledge, and generous with his love to those he cared most about. There was a no nonsense air about him, but he knew what life was. He took it as it was and accepted everyone at face value which was both relieving and terrifying. I mean, you could be purple and he wouldn’t care, but cross him and you would be sure to never do that again. I had forgotten those lessons a long time ago, always trying to prove myself rather than accept.
As I sit in my office, the light dancing through my window, gathering my bearings about where I am and my next moves, it reminds me of that time of day when we’d play those games. I can still hear his laugh and see his shoulders shaking, trying to hold back the childish giggles he never lost. I am so grateful that nearly 30 years after he left, I still learn from him. I opened the pack of cookies and savored four of them. I am grateful to just be, to remember who I am and where I came from. I feel safe and at peace here. I might have another cookie…