Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The night great grandpa died and the clock

Great Grandpa Bill was my Grandfathers dad. He lived with my grandparents . I don't know how old he was just that all of my really early memories have great grandpa Bill in them . I can clearly see his haunting blue gray eyes and his large gnarled hands and his faded blue over-alls with all those many pockets. I don't remember his voice or if he smoked but he always had a candy for me in one of those many pockets. I can see him after he was house bound calling me over to his rocking chair and asking if I still like horses. I see me nodding yes and him handing me a homemade horse on a stick.
What I remember most is the night great grandpa died .I was about 5 and had never experienced death first hand. You see great grandpa slept in the bedroom of the living room and when I stayed there I got to sleep on the living room floor. It was so soothing to be able to hear his steady gentle snores every night.
Great grandpa died at home in his bed. The curtain was closed and calls were made over the party line and soon people started to arrive. I was finally told just what had happened, that Great grandpa had died and he way going to be buried in the ground and would be with grandma Mary. Grandpa wash washed and changed and laid out in his finest, just like the worlds oldest groom on his wedding day. On the table in the living room. Where I sleep. I was told to touch him, he is dead,he is sleeping for eternity. He is just cold and soon and soon will be placed in a wooden box and placed in the ground forever. Finally it is time to go back to sleep. I was allowed to sleep in bed with Grandma. I can't sleep. I'm scared, I'm terrified.
" Grandpa Bill IS NOT DEAD !" I scream.
" Yes he is."
" No he is not."
I am coaxed in to putting my hand into the lapels of his jacket to feel his chest. I can still hear him breathing. Inhale in exhale out, in and out, in and out. Slight wheeze in, slight wheeze out. Soft,gentle, rhythmic snores.
" I can hear him, he is not dead. You can't bury him. I won't let you!" I scream at my grandparents.
Finally Grandpa comes and sits where I am at and listens very hard. He hears it too. He looks up at the wall at my grandmothers pendulum clock. He stands up and takes down from the wall and all is quiet.