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 a crossing signal for all of her little charges. The same light that a police officer stood in front of the entire school assembly and told us had been 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 and walk up my grandparents driveway. Always 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 grandparent’s house. On my left. Curve to my 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. When the parking area and garage stopped, the yard started.
This is where the brick side walk began. The sidewalk ran right down the middle of the large yard. I would walk the brick sidewalk through the yard. The first half of the yard had trees and lovely grass. I would then pass the shed on the right where they kept things locked up. Like their electric mower. Past the shed was a fire place built right in the yard out of cement blocks. Then I would reach 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.
For all of the hundreds, thousands, of times I walked that walk I remember one day very clearly.
I think about this day a lot.
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 it had happened. That conversation.
I missed it. That chance. On that day.
And it went unsaid. All of the things I wish, now, that I had the chance to ask him, then.
I think about it often.
What I missed.