Yesterday at church, I sat listening to the music. The young man playing was very talented, switching from the piano to the pipe organ, to a guitar. The instruments came alive in his hands. Curious, I flipped to the back of the bulletin to see his name, and I recognized his surname.
Madame G was a French teacher. She came to our elementary school once a week. To a kid who lived on a dirt road in the woods, she was quite an exotic creature. Thin, and tall, she draped herself in brightly colored scarves. She not only spoke French, she had been there. Many times.
I listened to her amazed. You have to understand my perspective: at that point my dream was to be the bookmobile lady. She not only got to travel (all over the county!), she got to travel with books. Seemed like the idyllic life, and it was about as big as I could imagine. I thought that you were born where you were destined to live.
Madame G did not have much luck teaching me French, I suppose. I was, after all, the child of a man who believed that in America we spoke English, by God! But what she did do for me was to give me a glimpse of a world that extended beyond my dirt road. Even beyond the county.
I made my way over to the young man after church, and I told him my story about his grandma. What a flood of stories I heard in return.
His grandmother loved to travel, but his grandfather did not like it quite so much. He did however, love his wife, and so they traveled. Joe told me that they were actually not wealthy people, so their favorite mode of travel was to find a tramp steamer. They crossed oceans on ships on which they were the only passengers. He said, "She always brought me something back. A little nickel bear from Switzerland, a handcarved figure from Norway, a necklace from Egypt." He laughed as he said, "I never realized how remarkable they were. I thought that everyone's grandma traveled all over the world to buy them presents."
I told him, "Many years ago, your grandmother gave me a glimpse of something far beyond what I knew. My son just got engaged at the top of the Eiffel Tower at sunset. I have to tell you, I thought of her 45 years after the fact, and how she would have loved that story."
He smiled. Although his grandma had been gone for nearly 20 years, you could tell that he loved having the chance to talk about her again.
I hope one day long in the future, when someone talks to William about his grandma, he gets the same sort of smile on his face.