My paternal grandparents’ farm has one long driveway that is a semicircle. The main driveway was gravel, but there was another part of the driveway, dirt, that went behind the house back to the highway. Along that dirt driveway, my grandpa planted peonies.
Every spring when they bloomed was exciting. When Marty and I were planning a spring wedding, I wanted peonies, but my florist said they were too fragrant.
It is my intention to divide and transplant some peonies from the farm to my yard. I learned, in talking with family on facebook, that some of the original peony bushes came from my great grandmothers on two sides. I also was reminded that there are some already here in Minnesota. Isn’t it amazing how one flower, one scent, can transport you to a different place? Seeing or smelling a peony bush takes me to this farm.
My grandpa died on April Fool’s Day, exactly 31 years after his father. I remember the morning my great-grandpa died. I was in first grade, and I thought it was too awful of news to be an April Fool’s joke. My grandpa’s death was not unexpected, and yet of course it was. Years earlier I had promised my grandma that I would officiate both their funerals. Because I was in the midst of chemo, I couldn’t even attend the funeral, let alone officiate. My cousin offered to drive me, but I didn’t have enough energy for the trip. I couldn’t be there for my dad. Though I knew in my heart that Grandpa would understand why I wasn’t leading his service, and why I couldn’t even attend, that knowledge was not a comfort.
Grandpa was a man of few words. “Well.” A one-word complete sentence that could mean many different things, based on his tone. I’ll never forget the time we were living with them before we moved to Memphis and my mom made him laugh so hard his drink came out his nose. I’ll always be grateful for him teaching me how to drive in the field. He would ask about school, and I never doubted how proud he was of me. He would occasionally type letters, purposely misspelling “dawg” and “Grandpaw” so that you could hear his voice.
So many things I wish I would have asked him. I didn’t have much energy for grief four years ago, so I am grieving today. I love you, Grandpa. Thank you God, for gifts like peonies that will always remind me of him.