Tuesday, May 29, 2007

stakeout success, part I

I spent most of Saturday sitting in the car with my sister, watching folks come and go from the cemetary. We had a lovely time visiting without pressure or intrusion. My sister and I have, in recent years, developed a marvelous friendship that's a joy for both of us.

Sunday, I set out on my own while Karen and Michelle went to church with my parents. Aside from there not being any decent coffee in the entire Kay County area, it was a grand morning spent sitting in my car in the rain, listening to old disco, then the monks chanting, a little Vivaldi, some Aretha, Talking Heads, a track or two of Benny Goodman. Between showers, I cracked the windows and the sunroof and experienced one of those sensory-inspired nostalgic time travels back to my uncle's enormous red barn on the plains of western Kansas. The barn was built by my two grandfathers and was as perfect and lovely as two precise, disciplined German men could make it. It was ornamented with gingerbread trim and was one of the tallest things west of Dodge City.

It seems I spent half my childhood in the hayloft, though that's in no way true. It's just that the memories of that sweet-scented barn were such a constant: the mysteries of the swallows nesting, the mud daubers' nests, the barn owls, bats hanging from the rafters, the horses stirring below while we played in the hay, the odd longing I felt looking west out of the upper door to a blank landscape of nothing but fields and prairie grass and a setting sun. That longing was a sweet sensation, almost an ache, and it's one of my earliest memories. I felt it Sunday morning as the scent of rain and plowed fields and freshly cut grass combined to take me back to that hayloft. It's a funny feeling and it seems to be an absolute awareness of the sweetness of the moment, the preciousness of this life, of being alive in a world full of possibilities.

I had a fabulous time in my own company and then with my sister, with Daddy and Pat dropping by to visit. Sunday rolled along, raining, raining, sister and I chatting, watching the occasional car pull up and park next to the tombstones of my grandparents. Many, many false alarms, as folks would park there, exit their vehicles, then cross the road. I had put some roses on their graves early Sunday morning, but by 4:00 or so we were ready to give up. The rain had drastically reduced the steady traffic typical for this time of year, and we assumed whoever was bringing flowers would have a little age on them, thus unlikely to set forth in the rain.

At 4:15 a car rounded the curve where we were parked, two middle-aged folks in front, a white-haired woman in the back. They stopped right by the graves of my grandparents and the male driver got out, rounded the car and looked at their graves. He opened the front car door and helped out a woman about his age, then the back door to assist an elderly woman as she stepped out.

They all three began circling the graves of Curtis and May, looking at them, pointing, obviously discussing something. The man went back to the car, pulled out a handful of hydrangeas, separating the bunch into two bouquets. They were dark blue, almost purple, and Daddy had told us the flowers were purple and there was always one bunch on each headstone.

Karen grabbed my wrist and said "is that her, is that mom?" We jumped out of the car and began a quick trot toward these strangers, three of them, now bent over the graves of my grandparents, placing the bunches of hydrangeas. As we approached, they all looked up at once and I said "those are my grandparents, are you related to them?"

It's 9:26 am and I must work, so will continue this story later this evening. Thank you so much, all of you, for your good wishes. This story has a happy outcome."


Anonymous Anonymous said...

OMG, are you trying to kill us?! Glad for your happy ending, looking forward to reading more.

May 29, 2007 9:37 AM  
Blogger Willym said...

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!! I am now going to be checking back every ten minutes... you are bad.... but such a damned good writer and a fabulous person I'll forgive you...

May 29, 2007 10:24 AM  
Blogger more cowbell said...

Are you serious?! No you did not just do that to us. Your ornery streak runs deep, Grasshopper.

I wait with bated breath and pounding pulse...

May 29, 2007 10:28 AM  
Blogger Andrea K said...

Oh, the suspense! You should write for a soap opera! I'm now going to have to check back here on the hour to see how this turns out!

May 29, 2007 11:02 AM  
Anonymous Richard said...


JMG has taught you well about keeping readers in suspense. Thanks for letting us know a happy ending awaits.

Richard in Atlanta

May 29, 2007 11:02 AM  
Blogger eric3000 said...

OMG! I can't believe you are leaving us hanging like that! Ha ha! Can't wait to find out who it was!

May 29, 2007 11:06 AM  
Blogger p.alan said...

You are a naughty, naughty girl Lynette.

I'm glad it was not all for naught. I'll be interested to see how this turns out...

May 29, 2007 12:03 PM  
Blogger Jeff said...

Talk about a cliffhanger- is it sweeps week for blogs or something?
Come on, Lynette- we're on pins and needles here...

May 29, 2007 12:05 PM  
Blogger Willym said...

I'm back.......

May 29, 2007 12:27 PM  
Blogger evilganome said...

*The dark side is strong in this one...* COME ON Lynette! That's just mean honey. I am so proud of you. I can't wait to hear how all this turns out.

May 29, 2007 12:30 PM  
Anonymous Brion said...

Such evocative writing!! And a 'cliffhanger' as well!!

Oh you're such a tease! I get up early (yes it's morning here 'downunder') just to check on the stakeout and you keep us hanging!!
It's good that it sounds like it turned out Ok.Will be checking back during my day to read the next installment!!


May 29, 2007 2:28 PM  
Anonymous tater said...

Yay! I am so HAPPY for you! I can't wait to read the ending to this marvelous story. I had a barn like that on my great Uncle wilson's farm. I would make tunnels through the hay bales, play with the farm cats, and watch the mud daubers do their intricate bump dancing flights across the rafters. I always marveled at the delicate intersection of their little bodies, how they looked so fragile, so refined. I would stalk the rat snakes and watch them for hours hoping to see them take down a barn rat. I got lucky just once, but it was a mouse, not a rat, that got caught. I, too remember looking over the red soiled countryside from the hayloft, thinking I could see for miles and miles. I used to daydream about native americans roaming the lands, hunting with bow and arrow. every once in awhile, we would find arrowheads in the pasture, broken bits of clay pottery, petrified wood. All things that keep little boy's imaginations fertile, like fresh tilled soil.

Thanks for bringing back some very fond memories for me, and I wish for happy endings to come! Beautiful post sweetheart!

May 29, 2007 2:40 PM  
Blogger Beula said...

Today suddenly you HAVE to get back to work? Where is your famous procrastination when we need it? Hurry up already.

May 29, 2007 4:12 PM  
Blogger Ms. Place said...

You are a wonderful story teller, but you must know that. This is such a great story. I am so happy that you and your sister did not wait in vain. Just for that moment you must have thought it was your mom, and I cannot imagine how your heart must have quickened.

May 29, 2007 8:27 PM  

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