Perennial Happiness

April 4, 2011 at 12:01 am | Posted in Family, Me | 17 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

It’s April, and our ubiquitous signal of spring is, well, in full bloom. Wildflowers. Every time I see a patch of Indian paintbrushes or black-eyed Susans, I’m instantly four again.

I’m riding in my grandpa’s Dodge truck, its copper hood glinting like old pennies in the afternoon sun. The octagon patchwork of the seat warms my legs through my shorts and leaves an imprint on the back of my knees. He has a tall green thermos of coffee by his feet; the truck cab smells like Folger’s crystals. His black pug snores on the top of the seat behind him, her scrunchy face resting on his shoulder.

He gulps from the thermos and then punches the buttons on the old analog radio. Between the static, he finds two Country and Western stations playing lots of Johnny, Merle, and Willie. With the windows rolled down, we drive for miles, letting the hot wind blow our hair into knots and wiping dust from our eyebrows.

And the wildflowers, oh, the wildflowers. They are everywhere. We pass patch after patch, my squeals getting louder and longer the farther we go. He smiles and pulls off to the shoulder. We get out and walk through the crab grass to a clump of buttercups. He bends down and runs his finger gently over one of the buds. I bend down, too, and breathe in its faint, faint sweetness. It smells like rain.

I reach for a handful. “Wait, sugar,” he says. “They’re not for pickin’. Just for lookin’. If we pick ’em all, there won’t be any to enjoy.” I draw my hand back and lean closer. I can’t resist sticking my nose in one of the soft centers. The pollen clings to my face, making yellow rouge circles on my smiling cheeks.

It’s been five years since my grandpa passed away. And nearly 30 years since I spent springtime Saturdays with him gawking at wildflowers and gathering sacks of pecans to take home for pie. But with each year that passes, this memory gets more vivid.

Sometimes, I wonder how many blanks my brain is filling in with made-up details.

And sometimes, I don’t think it matters.

What childhood memories linger in your mind? How many details are you certain of? And do you think it matters?

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17 Comments »

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  1. What a terrific memory, Stacia. Grandparent memories are some of the best.

  2. Stacia,
    What a beautiful tribute to your grandpa. Thanks for sharing.

  3. I love when old memories like that sneak up on us and give us the warm fuzzies. Makes me so nostalgic for the past and even more determined about making sure my kid(s)’ childhood is just as special.

  4. What a beautiful nostalgic post. A wonderful memory of childhood. Sometimes I wonder the same thing, if some of the memories get filled in along the way….but it’s so good to remember.

  5. I adore the blanketed hillsides. They bring up too many memories, all in a glorious jumble. I know my memories of grandparents are faded, though certain spots shine almost unnaturally. The earth, the sea, music, pipe tobacco all bring them back.

  6. So sweet. I love that the memories get more vivid with time.

    Dan is always telling the kids these amazingly, recounted stories from his childhood, dialogue and all. And sometimes I ask: did that really happen? Did your dad really say that?

    But it doesn’t matter, right?

  7. sweet post Stacia. Country music was a common sound in my childhood too. My boys love wildflowers. It is always hard to keep them from picking them (from the neighbors yard).

  8. I have so few old memories like that. It all remains on blur of never living in the moment, just getting by. This is a lovely image though.

  9. What a beautiful memory. What a great way to honor your grandfather.

    • BTW – I awarded you with the Versatile Blogger Award. Here is the shortlink to my post: http://wp.me/pYPPu-en. I would have sent you a personal e-mail but couldn’t find one.

  10. With memories as beautiful as this, I am CERTAIN it doesn’t matter.

  11. I agree with Christine….and some memories get so much better with age and part of is the feelings we have about the memories.

  12. What wonderful memories. Your words keep him alive Stacia. It’s the details, but it is more about the feeling. And I feel your love for him through your words.

  13. Some times I think I remember everything from being a little girl. I was at my parents last week and when I was driving around town, I would get almost overwhelmed with the feeling of familiarity, of “I know and understand this place like no other.” I grew up in the same town as all of my living grandparents so many good memories there. My parents and I were watching my kids play with their cousins last week, and I all of a sudden thought about my Grandpa P and thought, “I can’t believe Grandpa missed all this. He would have gotten such a big kick out of all these kids.” Hope he is chuckling at them from somewhere!

  14. I love this! What a sweet, sweet memory!

  15. My memories get more vivid too. I’m not sure I realized this. Thank you for pointing to it with such clarity (especially the warm car seat on the back of knees). I think it does matter.

    I think the memories that grow in my mind are the ones that are visiting for a reason. They are the standouts because they are speaking to me. They get louder because they want me to attend. I’m happy (mostly) to do so.

  16. This is lovely, Stacia. And I agree, I don’t think it matters. Your memories are probably a combination of actual details and those filled in by emotion. Together they create your own personal memory and “photo” album. It’ll be interesting how you will remember the stories that surround your blog posts someday. 🙂 Lovely tribute to your grandpa.


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