I’m not sure what obsessive, compulsive behavior is, but I’m pretty sure that is the way my Mom is with out of date groceries. On a recent visit, she opened my refrigerator and quickly pointed out that the milk carton indicated it was past the expiration date. “Did you know that this milk is past the date?” I replied, “I know, but I’m saving that carton for the cat”. My Mom explained “when it’s past date, you shouldn’t even give it to your cat”. My 5 year old Granddaughter quickly came to my rescue. With hands on hips, she exclaimed to my Mom, “It don’t matter Granny”. My Mother gently asked, “Why is that sweetheart?” Now, with her tiny shoulders pinched forward, both arms stretched out, with palms up and with a whimsical grin, she pronounced, “Cuz the cat can’t read”.
I know that everyone has a cute grandchild story, and I think this qualifies. It was more than that to me. In a brief instant, as I watched this unfold, I had an epiphany. My Granddaughters gesture with hands on her hips followed by the outstretched arms, palms facing upward, is a gesture that I’ve seen my Mom make thousands of times. Not close, or sort of like Mom’s, but more of a patterned replica. Her smile, the one we call her sly grin, is her Mother’s. I used to tease my daughter on how she did that smile. It is one done with only the left side of the face. I’ve tried, and practiced in the mirror, and I can’t duplicate this smile. I thought it was uniquely my daughters, but not anymore. Of course the logic, the smooth, well don’t you get it logic, my Granddaughter gets from me!
The epiphany is a simplistic one. This was not the life everlasting component of Christianity. Rather, in this snapshot in time, I clearly saw that through my children, through my grandchildren and through their children’s children, part of me could live forever. My Granddaughter came over to where I was sitting, and asked me, “Papa Bill – are you crying?” “No sweetheart, I just have a tear in my eye”. She asked, “Why do you have a tear in your eye?” I replied, “Cuz the cat can’t read.”
Bill Hogg is a member of St. Nicholas, and resident writer of poems, prayers, and late-night musings. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.