People have been debating the hereafter since, well, probably since the first tribes gathered around the first campfires and gazed into the night’s sky. Where do we come from, where do we go? What’s it all about? I know many people who believe in reincarnation, ghosts and various other concepts. Myself, I believed in ghosts as a kid, but that belief faded.
That is, until one day.
My dad and I had moved into the family cottage on New York Ave in Oak Bluffs. Grandmother and grandfather were gone, had been gone for a couple years, and yet how close they both seemed. I guess it was still seeing all of their touches to the cottage: grandmother’s graham cracker tin, grandfather’s tools, and there was that old lamp in the living room; the one grandfather told the story about, but that’s another story. One afternoon, I was sitting on the upstairs’ porch reading some comic books, and I felt a bit sleepy. The next thing I knew, I was coming down the stairs to the dining room, and I heard something in the living room. The open doorway separating the two rooms had a curtain, and I thought I could just make out a figure sitting on the couch. I thought it was dad.
I was wrong.
Stepping into the room, I saw grandmother, and I smiled. She smiled that lovely soft smile of hers. We chatted, she asked how I’d been, what I was up to, and if I’d like some tea and graham crackers. Of course, I said, yes, I never turned down an offer of that combo! While the water heated, I got out the old Ouija board and we played cards, gin rummy was our game. That was how the afternoon passed: cards, tea and crackers, and talking. Oh, I’d forgotten how good it was to talk with her.
Finally, the shadows grew long, and she said she had to go. I didn’t want her to leave, but she said grandfather would worry if she were late. After all, he couldn’t make dinner without her there to hold his hand. I laughed, as I remembered the time she’d been in the hospital for something. Dad had said that grandfather lived on breakfast, the only meal he could make on his own.
Reluctantly, I let her go. I touched her hand, so warm and delicate. I kissed her cheek, old and wrinkled, and yet so soft and vibrant.
I said good-bye.
Sitting alone on the couch, I sat back and closed my eyes. Quite suddenly, I was back on the upstairs’ porch. I looked around, my comics strewn about, the sun had nearly set and I was feeling a chill. How had I gotten back up here? Had I never left? I dashed down the stairs. Dad was in the kitchen making dinner, but there were no signs of the dirty teapot or cups.
Had it all been a dream?
I decided it had to be, and let it go. Then, a few days later, while we were stoking up the fireplace for a nice evening fire, I found a piece of paper under the couch. It was a score sheet from a game of gin rummy between grandmother and me! I suppose it could have just been stuck under there since the last time we played. Yet, I don’t know.
The paper wasn’t yellow with age.
Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Most of the time he writes, but sometimes he works at Disney World to renew his fantasies and get a few dollars more. AJ writes, with insight and passion, about his family and his dog. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true.
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