The rain was, indeed, gone. I feel that among all the despair and tears of the previous post, I’d supplement today’s writing with something a bit more uplifting. I’ve already talked about this a very long time ago and it became part of the eulogy when my grandfather was buried but I suspect it may be time to talk about it again.
We had gone for a drive — my grandparents, my mother and I. I know we went far outside the city into the countryside, there were ducks, there was sand (and a sand castle that simply wouldn’t stand up, if memory serves), and a soccer ball that I tried to bounce on my head (fail) but that grandpa was able to do some amazing things with. I had no idea until that day that he had any interest in the game but that may have come from the fact that I had no interest in it — or really any other. When the first drops of rain started to fall, we all bundled into his antediluvian sedan for the rather lengthy drive back to their house, where we were all staying for the vacation.
We made it about ten minutes before two things rapidly fell. One of them was pretty much every drop of water still available in the sky — all at once, I believe. The other thing was the windshield wiper. It fell one last time and wouldn’t move a single centimeter. To this day, I have no idea if it was the wiper motor or the switch or what but there we were, pulled over on the side of the road in the middle of a rainstorm that certainly gave every indication of developing into a second Noah story with no way of seeing out the front of the car to drive the next half hour home from what I’m sure wasn’t as isolated as it felt but in an age before cellphones it was certainly barren enough and, when no car had passed for a good ten minutes, we didn’t have much hope of being rescued by a passerby. I should probably mention that I was maybe seven or eight at the time. My mother and her mother, both sitting in the back seat and chatting about something that involved music, I believe, were perfectly happy to wait out the rain, especially if it meant not risking driving without good visibility. Grandpa, though, he was nothing if not resourceful.
Twenty-five minutes of driving through torrential downpour with the window open, an arm out it, holding the wiper tied with strong wire to a branch from the tree beside where we had pulled over. I was amazed we made it without either hitting anything or my grandfather’s arm falling off from the repeated wiping movement. Nothing happened. He laughed the entire way home and we joined him in it — especially after we made it there. The rain kept up that entire day, the night, the next day and perhaps the whole following week. We’d have been there awhile waiting if it hadn’t been for that genius piece of engineering. And the good-natured approach to just getting on with it in spite of it being inconvenient and physically exhausting. That was how my grandfather was. Not just brilliant but so easy-going about it that nobody ever felt judged or annoyed. I hope someday I have the inner peace he embodied, even just that tiny slice of it that he showed in that one car ride, honestly!
It’s been a long time since my grandparents’ lives ended. I know that their energy has gone on to find new homes, their choices having made the world a better place. But their personalities, their unique selves live on in my mind and I could never forget how much they mean to me. They are my inspiration and when I have dark moments, it is their voices more than any others that have called me back out of the blackness inside me.
If they could survive a marriage amid air raids and postwar life, how could I possibly give up when the only thing fighting against me with any effectiveness is myself? You may not judge me harshly for the failure that has been my life but I do. Someday I hope I can make them proud, at least posthumously. I don’t know if I will ever be able to. But I keep trying.