Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Ends and Beginnings

When I was about three years old I saw a t.v. show that would change my life forever. I was watching a marathon of Mr. Rodgers with my Grandpa. When suddenly the smiley old man with a fondness for puppets and zip up sweaters was replaced by a man with sandy blonde hair and tiny santa-like glasses. It was Rick Steve’s Europe and he was visiting Paris. I remember sitting on my grandpa’s lap with my eyes glued to the screen.
He went to Notre Dame, scaled the steps of Montmarte, walked the Champs-Élysées, went on Le Grande Roue, all of the things you are supposed to do in Paris and few more. But of all the things in Paris it was the Louvre that enchanted me. Its history as a royal palace, its strange pyramid in the courtyard, but most of all Winged Victory. How could something with out a face or arms be so beautiful and so elegantly capture movement. I think my child self resolved that it must have been an unfortunate angel who fell in the path of Medusa and was turned to stone, in my mind there was no way something like that could have been made by a human. In any case this city captured me in such a way that at a very young age I knew that I would go to Paris someday. It was not a mater of if but to me I saw it as something that was going to happen, someday I knew I would be walking the banks of the Seine with Notre Dame on the horizon. Even at the young age of three I would tell people that I was going to Paris, it was just a matter of  time.
It was afternoons like that one spent at my grandparents house watching PBS shows, building blanket forts, making dolls out of socks with my grandma, or racing my sister to the lone swing that hung from the largest Pecan tree this side off the Pecos river. That I miss the most from my childhood. I spent so much time with my grandparents by the time I was in kindergarden I had picked up a little bit of their Texas accent.
I remember one day during the dreaded reading group time, which I hated because I already knew how to read, this ornery little kid called me out for saying y’all in front of the whole class. It was incidents like this that made me dislike the people at my school, I enjoyed learning, I just was not so hot on all the kids there, I continued to visit my Papa and Grandma every day and I further retreated into their love. The children in my class thought it was silly that I was going on trip “someday” they were very set on making me feel that I was very odd. At that age I didn’t know anything else that I might want as a grown up, I just knew that someday I would go to Paris.
After school and during vacations and summer I stayed with my grandparents while both my parents worked.  My sister and I would do puzzles with my grandparents, help them in their acre with raking and cleaning up after their fruit trees an garden. In the mornings when my mom would drop us off I would help my grandpa. I would go into his room and help him button his shirt, put shaving cream on his face, help him shave and get his dentures for him from their glass.  Then we would sit down for breakfast. By that time my grandma and my sister would have ate already and would be in the yard working, but Papa and I would always spend our mornings together.
My Papa kept needing more and more help from me in the mornings, eventually I wasn’t enough help for him. I knew that he had cancer, but at the age of seven I just thought It was something that all old people got. First my dad and I had to make all theses ramps for him and his walker which was decorated with every sticker I could get my hands on. Then It was a shower chair and a wheel chair. Next was a hospital bed, then meals in bed, oxygen and a nurse. One day my dad came to pick me up from school early, I thought it was for my sisters Open House but he took me to my Grandparents house where my sister and my Aunt Sherry and my Grandma were and they told me he was gone. I remember going into his room but all I remember seeing are his skinny long feet touching the foot of his bed, his closet open reveling the classic Members Only jacket he always wore, and the owl wind chime that hung from a corner of his room. I remember feeling really sad and crying for hour
When my grandma passed away my junior year of high school, the woman who took care of me as a little kid, the woman who taught me to sew the woman who kept my papa’s memories alive by telling his stories through her tears, and so many other things.  Ironically my grandmas passing allowed me to complete the one thing I had always known, that I needed to go to Paris. She left me enough money to fund me to go on a class exchange program to France for a month.
   Its funny how things end up how our beginning tie our end, how falling in love with an idea in an orange chair can land you swimming in the Mediterranean sea with the taste of salt tingling your skin and the sun illuminating your oldest dream. I was so so sad when she passed,  I still am, but at least now there is a hope that  somehow they will find each other in the heaven they so deeply believed in.

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