I remember walking home from school. It was a short walk but often times felt so long. Maybe because I measure by the length of my legs today compared to the length of my legs as a child.
I would walk out of the old stone school building and cross the street in front of the school. Where our principal Sr. Anne had managed to get the city or street department to put in a traffic signal. The traffic signal that gave us a safer cross walk and crossing signal to all of her little charges. That same light that, someone told the entire school assembly, was put in illegally. All of Sr. Anne’s little charges sitting on the floor filled the large cafeteria with “ooooohs” and “aaaaahs”. I felt bad for her. I crossed there every day of school for eight years. Safely, I might add.
I would walk up the street, passing the church on my left, that sat on the same side of the street as the school. It is a grand church. I would turn right, up my grandparents driveway. Making sure to walk on their half of the driveway. Not Fanny’s. I was told Fanny didn’t like us walking on her part of the drive way.
I would walk past my grandparents house. On my left. Curve to me left past the house, then to my right, to pass along their garage. The garage without any front.
Their driveway also had a parking area behind the house, that ran along the side of the garage. When the parking area and garage stopped, the yard started.
And the brick side walk began. I would walk the brick side walk through the yard. The first half. Passing the shed on the right where they kept things locked up. Like their electric mower. On the left were some trees. Past the shed was a fire place built right in the yard out of brick. Then you got to the hedges. They split the large back yard in half. On the right, past the hedges was a garden. It was a wonderful vegetable garden. I’m sure I didn’t appreciate it as much then as I would now.
I can’t stop thinking about that one day.
I wanted to get home. I don’t know why. Maybe I was tired. Maybe I had to go to the bathroom. Maybe I was hungry. Maybe I didn’t want to carry my books any more. Maybe I just didn’t want to talk to anyone.
This one day, Grandfather was in the garden.
I can see him in his light weight jacket. I believe it was light tan. Holding a hoe or a rake under his arm. But using his hands to tie up the tomatoes.
He didn’t see me.
I knew I should have stopped to talk with him. But for some reason I just wanted to keep going. For whatever pressing reasons little kids have.
I can’t tell you how many days I may have stopped to talk to him.
But I can clearly tell you about that day that I did not.
And it haunts me.
I imagine all of the things he may have told me. Had I stopped to talk with him.
If I remember what didn’t happen….. imagine what I would remember if I had had that conversation.
I missed it. That chance. On that day.
And it went unsaid.
And I think about it often.
What I missed.