It was about 1980. I was a grownup. Married. Living life on my own. But with regard to some things, I think you always stay a child. This was one of those things. I was at my grandparent’s house with my mother and my aunt and uncle. They were helping get my grandmother ready to leave her home and live with one of her daughters. It was a hard day.
My grandfather had passed away several years before. The family had tried to leave my grandmother in her home by providing help for her, but that just hadn’t worked out. It was time to do something else. She was quite elderly, almost 90 years of age. Young for her age, however. I remember how beautiful she still was. Still smart, savvy. She was a tough Eastern Kentucky lady. It hadn’t been many years since she was squirrel hunting. I was always a little scared of her, but I admired her.
I remember that I tried to help but, typically, my mother wouldn’t let me. I spent most of that day sitting on the old porch swing. Many homes in my part of the world, back in those days, had wide front porches that went the full length of the house, where family and neighbors gathered in the evenings for fun and fellowship. There was always a porch swing. It was my favorite place to sit at my grandparent’s house and, I suppose, in the back of my mind, I knew this would be the last time.
As I looked around, it occurred to me what a beautiful place it was there in the eastern part of Kentucky. My grandparents farm was in a bowl-shaped valley, surrounded by hills rich with valuable hardwood timber. Not only did the residents of the valley farm, but fossil fuels lay beneath the surface and there was drilling for oil and natural gas. A beautiful, rich place. I’d taken it for granted growing up. I didn’t anymore.
My uncle had passed away a year before my grandfather. As I sat there in the porch swing, I had thoughts of those who had gone before me on that patch of ground, especially my beloved grandfather and uncle. I could see my uncle pull in the driveway in his postal service car. At that point, I heard the sound of tires on gravel and I looked around. The car in the driveway looked like my Uncle’s car. I thought to myself that it wasn’t possible. He had been gone for a while now. I felt like I just blinked my eyes and I saw my Uncle leaning against his car as he so typically did, grinning at me. I wanted to call for my mother, but there wasn’t time. The next thing I knew, he was walking up the road with his back to me, but he seemed just to be a shadow. I watched him walk. As he walked away, he slowly disappeared.
I just sat there, in that old swing, for a few moments. There was, indeed, a car in the drive but it wasn’t my Uncle’s. I knew that I had seen him. I had never had such an experience before. It somehow gave me peace, not only about my Uncle but about my grandmother leaving home. I don’t know how to explain that further. It was a bit of a spiritual journey for me. The day in the porch swing.