Do you believe in ghosts? I didn’t used to. . . but I didn’t not believe in them either. Who was I to say they didn’t exist, just because I had never seen one? Then, one night a couple of years after my grandmother died, i was in Warner Robins, rocking Rollie to sleep in the room my grandmother died in.
And I. . . I smelled her. I sensed her there with me. It was one of the most peaceful, amazing experiences I have ever had. There is no doubt in my mind that she was there with me, and with Rollie, and that she wanted to see him.
I know, crazy, right?
But sometimes I feel close to my grandparents, even when I know they are not really there. I feel closest to my grandfather at the lake, when I am working in the yard, especially up by the pump house, where he pointed out the spirea and Althea to me, and near the burn pile. His chair is still there, rake sitting by it, waiting to rake up stray embers when the pile is burning. I can almost feel him when i look at the majestic camellia he planted, or the muscadine vines on their trellis. I can stand in the pine island by the driveway, amidst the azaleas and hydrangeas he dug up at Aunt Lessie’s in Savannah, and transplanted there at the lake. I remember going to the woods with him to find dogwood and redbud saplings and bring them home and plant them.
He is there still, if anywhere.
I think of him, sitting on the ground, his knee bad from the fall in Vietnam, using a pocket knife to dig up weeds while I worked. In winter, he would wear a pair of pants. And a plaid shirt. If he was doing masonry, he might wear an old flight suit from the base. (He called them, and overalls, dungarees. Boots were Brogans.) But usually it was the plaid shirt. Pop was grunge long before grunge. The shirts are still there. My dad and i wear them when we work in the yard.
And I always think, when I put them on, The Goat Man Rides Again!