I find it exceedingly strange that as I age, I suddenly remember things that I had forgotten for decades! It is always something that was extremely important to me once and was seemingly lost forever in the vat on top of my shoulders and then boom I just remember. I have no idea where the memory pops from or what triggers the remembrance. It is just there, out of the blue.
We visited my paternal grandparents weekly. As a child, I adored my paternal grandfather. My paternal grandmother was a card carrying member of the Children are to be seen, not heard club. When at their home for Sunday dinner, I had to entertain myself in a room down the hall. There were no children’s toys. I had imagination and books. I remember before I could read well, I was captivated by the Peanut’s books, most likely because it was pictures/cartoons. After a few more years reading experience, for the first time, I fell head over heels in love with a book.
At the most, I was possibly 9 years old. It was thin and paperback, unlike most of Grandfather’s books. It had a powder blue cover surrounding a penciled rendition of the profile of a man with a large beard. I cannot for the life of me remember the exact title (this was the late 60s and I can hardly remember last Friday). It was a collection of poems by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. I devoured the words with a passion I would love to tap into again these days. Something about the cadence of Hiawatha’s Childhood moved into the gray matter between my ears and didn’t leave for years. I didn’t read the poems, as much as I could hear them in my head. It was wonderful. As I recall, when Grandfather passed away I was given that book. I do not remember, now, what happened to that beloved book.
Today, suddenly and 35+ years later, I heard the words in my head. I know not where they came from, but they gave me great comfort. And I will take comfort wherever and however it comes.
The Reaper And The Flowers.
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
There is a Reaper, whose name is Death,
And, with his sickle keen,
He reaps the bearded grain at a breath,
And the flowers that grow between.
“Shall I have naught that is fair?” saith he;
“Have naught but the bearded grain?
Though the breath of these flowers is sweet to me,
I will give them all back again.”
He gazed at the flowers with tearful eyes,
He kissed their drooping leaves;
It was for the Lord of Paradise
He bound them in his sheaves.
“My Lord has need of these flowerets gay,”
The Reaper said, and smiled;
“Dear tokens of the earth are they,
Where he was once a child.”
“They shall all bloom in fields of light,
Transplanted by my care,
And saints, upon their garments white,
These sacred blossoms wear.”
And the mother gave, in tears and pain,
The flowers she most did love;
She knew she should find them all again
In the fields of light above.
O, not in cruelty, not in wrath,
The Reaper came that day;
‘T was an angel visited the green earth,
And took the flowers away.