Thursday, June 25, 2015

The End of a Generation

The last month we had a lot to do. The month ended with my grandfather's Arlington Cemetery burial and family reunion. I wasn't able to be there for his funeral and this was my chance to honor the hero that he was. Ellie was strapped to me as we placed a rose at the resting place of her namesake and I wish for everything that both of those amazing people had been here to meet my darling girls. They would have wondered what I was thinking and probably told me that this was too much for me. I'm pretty positive my spunky grandmother would have dropped a few "Good God's!!" 

But they would have choked up when my girls slipped their hands into their life-worn, aged hands. They would have loved them well. Shirley Jean Moschell Penny would have loved sitting with my Ellie and drawing her out of her traumatized shell. She would not have minded Ellie's rough, too loud voice. She would have told her to keep talking, keep yelling until she got it right. And she would have believed, despite any other evidence, that Ellie was going to be okay. Robert Flood Penny would have been first in line to take Everlyse on long, slow walks around the block. He would have described those stars that he navigated so well in ways that would make my girls see them and reach for their sparkling light. One hand would be looped behind his back awaiting the return of his other hand as he pointed to the North Star and the Southern Cross, knowing that my girls would follow the tilt of his voice and lift their faces to the night sky. 

I grieve that Ellie and Evers won't know the smell of his starched shirts and sweaters or smell the leather from his loafers as he entered a room. I grieve that they won't associate the aroma of a good roast with their Great Grandmother. I grieve that Everlyse won't be able to share tiny shoes with her Great Grandmother and that I won't have that moment of horror seeing those gaudy things on her feet. Every child should know the taste of plastic fruit and the knowledge that some strange insanity exists in the world because non-edible food somehow became a staple decoration in homes. My girls would never be fooled by the plastic chocolate that bore the marks of too many children trying to steal a sweet bite. My girls would know by feeling them that the rest of us were all fools. 

It still feels like if I could just find the right road in Sarasota I could loop my car around, passed the gourd making neighbor, and pull into the driveway. If I could hear the screen door closing and smell the laundry detergent wrapping its scent around the garden I could knock on the door and hear the shuffle of slippered feet one more time. I would turn the knob and slide my shoes by the door and listen for the TV guide to rustle to the side table. A voice would say, "Well, come in, come on in. Shirley they're here." and back to him "Robert, I know that! Come on in, come on. Have you eaten? Do you want a root beer? Robert, take them to the garage for a soda." 

They were the very best of The Greatest Generation and I know that every time I have the will to go one more round with Ellie that it is because they taught me these lesssons. 

*Every person is valuable.
*There is evil in the world. Fight it.
*Don't quit, ever.
*Love each other, always.
*Today is enough.

What I wouldn't give for one more soda from the garage.

1 comment:

  1. So sweetly written. I feel as if I knew them by your descriptions.