Happy Whit Monday, or Pentecost Monday — we have today off in Geneva and most other cantons.
I was having lunch with a friend last week (hooray for outdoor dining again) when we saw a hearse driving slowly through the neighborhood. It was overflowing with bright, pastel-toned flowers. I began to tell my friend about a dream I’d had recently about my grandfather, who had passed away last month. In the dream, he was in a coma, as he’d been in real life. But when I held his hand in the dream, it was as though I could feel him speaking to me.
And to my surprise, I burst out in tears. “I could feel him saying that he loved me,” I managed to get out, “and that he was proud of me.” We sat there quietly for a moment.
This was the first time that I’d cried since my grandfather died. Because my family lived so far away, we had never been close enough to have a relationship. They say that every old person who passes away takes with them a unique library of knowledge and life experiences. That’s certainly true of my grandfather. This is what I know about him:
He was an orphan, left to fend for himself and his brothers and sisters at age six when their parents died from starvation. He never knew his real birthday, so the government decided it would be June 1, children’s day. He had a twin brother who was identical to him; when my mom was a kid, she’d sometimes get the two of them confused. He met my grandmother as a young man, when he gave her and her mother a ride on a horse-drawn cart and she fell in love with him and asked a matchmaker to introduce them. He lost his hearing around age 40 after decades of working in a loud factory. He never had the chance to attend school, but taught himself math and engineering skills. If he’d been born in the US, he honestly could have worked for NASA.
I am so proud of who he was and how hard he worked to build a better life for his family.
The day after, I decided to get some flowers. They remind me of the kind I’d seen on the hearse, a joyful celebration of life.
Here they are with my new sofa. Now that I know I’m going to be in Geneva for another two years, I decided to buy a sofa bed for hosting friends and family. It’s soft and velvet and such a lovely, rich shade of forest green. I’m not quite sure what to do with the tatami mat that had been in that spot previously, so I’ve folded it for now to use as a sort of footrest underneath.
To new seasons, new chapters and new beginnings….