There is a part of me that has felt that my experience of manhood has been lacking without having a significant elder presence in my life. My father is present and our relationship is growing, but there are times I feel that something is missing. Something that ties me to more closely to humanity, those who have gone before me and the earth than a link that is based on my spending habits or other demographics a grandfather presence.
If I close my eyes I can almost see what I want/ need…
On a clear evening there is a roaring fire which separates my paternal grandfather (I called him Baba) and me. He smiles to show that he has been waiting for me and to welcome me. There is a companionable silence before we begin. “So how are you?” he asks. That question throws me, there’s so much to tell and even more to ask. However I don’t know how to begin or where to begin. In that magical place I know that he knows all that I know and also that he will wait for me to broach a topic.
So, where do I begin, at the most obvious place, I suppose “I miss you baba”, it’s only recently, perhaps as I approach the elder stage in my life that I realise how true this is. I miss the fact that I’ll never hear you tell stories of your life. What worked, what didn’t and what you would have done differently.
I miss that we’ll never be able to have a relationship that isn’t built on your anger and I judge the sadness that was associated with that anger. I miss and am sad that we’ll never be able to heal each other with our sharing.
I miss your smile and laughter and that we’ll never be able to laugh and share as men, maybe even as equals.
At times it feels like we are similar and not just physically, I miss that you’ll never be able to share your experiences which would help me to see mine in a new light and learn from you.
I miss that you’ll never see your first great grandson and laugh at his anecdotes and japes.
I miss that you’ll never be able to tell me how proud you are of me and seeing the light in your eyes as you do.
I miss that I’ll never be able to share with you how some of the things you did made me feel so loved and accepted and to be able to thank you for them.
I realise that as I’ve been talking, I’ve been looking more at the fire than I have at him but as I look up I see him smiling and know that it’s OK, he’s heard what I needed and wanted to say and perhaps in that magical place we will be able to meet and share again. As I open my eyes I’m aware that the smile that I’d seen on his face is echoed on mine.
Courtesy of Shaky Shergill