For Grandpa Jack

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Subject: For Jack Heil







it would seem that there are not too many threads
between you and I

your exit came nineteen years before my arrival
and I have only a few snapshots
in the stark black and white
of the postwar years
when you married my grandmother
and held my mother on your lap
in a white tank top
with a wooden cross around your neck
and a bottle of Imperial in her tiny hands

and I have only a few stories
of how you traveled for work
and how the six kids would pile in the car
to drive old highway 99 to the airport
and see you off
back in the day when you walked across the tarmac
and up the stairs
if you needed to take a plane

of how you were at a convention in Florida for work
with my Grandmother
and she took one flight
and you took another
and you did not come home

of how your absence tore a hole in your family
and how your widow stitched it together as best as she knew how
and your children healed in the best ways they were able
and they grew with the scars
and they raised their children differently
as a result
and I am one of those

so I have a few photos
and a few stories
and tonight, it occurs to me that I have something else
I am your granddaughter
I am one-fourth you.
I do not know which parts of me come from you
but it cannot be denied
that we are connected in ways
that are timeless and unknowable

and I have your headstone
and I visit it sometimes
with cedar boughs or incense
sometimes I bring you coffee
and your great-grandson,
and I wonder what you would tell me
if you could

“maybe death
isn’t darkness, after all,
but so much light
wrapping itself around us–”

― Mary Oliver

This entry was posted in Passengers on 705 and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to For Grandpa Jack

  1. T.L. Heil says:

    Whew. This lands solidly on my heart. Once again. Thank you Sarah. This was such a gift.

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