My grandfather made things with his hands.
He was a woodcarver, like Geppetto. Italian. Tall, dark, handsome. Quiet, then loud…He’s been gone for eleven years now, since February 2001. (You could say he died just before, but his time had crazy stuff too. Different enemies with different names, but still enemies. Still names.) He died on his birthday, and I think there’s poetry in that…
After pulling out of the gym this morning and into a bagel place (way to be counterproductive!), I took us to see Maga, his wife, my Italian grandma.
We brought her bagels and cream cheese and egg salad, and because Italians can’t eat anything without a touch of Italian, she added to the spread a platter of salami and provolone. Yes, platter. And coffee. A full table was set. It was 11:30 a.m.
What am I going to do with all this? she said, talking wildly with her hands, pointing to four boxes of wood items in the corner she’d just found in the garage. Bookends and shelves and statues so intricately painted and detailed they looked alive. She pulled out a little wooden Mickey Mouse and you leapt for it, Baby Boy. Said “MMM! MMM!” which I translated as “Mickey Mouse!” (You’re welcome, speaking your language now, adding to the list of my hats: Interpreter.)
She began pulling out piece by piece, unfurling little coiled plastic bags. A cat. A tulip. A whimsical sign like something I’d buy at Home Goods that says in cursive “sunflowers for sale.” “LOOK! WHAT ABOUT THIS? YOU WANT THIS?”
Sure, I’d say…
I’ll take that one, too…
We currently have all four boxes downstairs in our garage, the garage I so painstakingly tried to organize and de-clutter last Saturday. There’s a saying, “like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.” In other words, a waste of time. That was me on the 100th anniversary of the ship’s sinking. Rearranging deck chairs.
Some people I don’t think you ever let go of. Maybe you move them to the back for a little. And then you shift things around. A box resurfaces and they come forward again. Maybe god is having fun up there with our hearts, constantly twisting them like they are all Rubik’s Cubes.