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Saturday, August 13, 2011

Prompt: When papa laughed like that, I was at once reminded of the past.

Aug. 2009
S. Palmerton

     Although the years had slowed his gait, his height enveloped him vertically into looking like a lanky giraffe.  Bold crimson red walls with cinnamon trim framed his presence tonight. He sat in the firm chocolate leather chair and his grandson plopped himself right onto his lap.

     Pulling on his snow white beard, young Johnny pronounced, "Grams, it's your turn to tell a story."

     "It is, isn't it." I heard my father state. I looked around. Tonight it was the three of us.I sat at the hearth and stoked the burning logs to bring them closer. After adding a fresh one to burn, and I chose one that would take a long time, I turned to give my father attention. Seeing my son nestled in his lap, stretched my chest forward. I took a deep breath in.

     I don't remember him doing that with me, I thought. In my time, for him, work was from dawn to dusk. My scanning mind couldn't locate any memories of sitting in my grandfathers' laps either.

     Yet there Johnny sat, perched quiet and still.  That's unusual, I thought and inwardly laughed.

     Time was lovingly expressing itself within three generations present, and was as tangible to me as the warmth from the fire behind me. I moved to the couch and stretch out, laying a blanket across my legs that were longer than my son.

     "Yes, go ahead dad. Tell us all a story," I said as I interlaced my fingers behind my head and crossed my ankles. The couch always fit me perfectly. Tonight I'd try to listen and not fall asleep within a half hour.

     I basked in the sight of my father, my papa, holding my son.

     The tale he told was spun like threads from a golden spider. It was natural and intricate, a piece of artwork.

     When did he learn this? I wondered. I could tell he was improvising anew, as we noticed Johnny beginning to drift off, even though he was trying to stay awake.

    By the end, he began to close his imagination's journey with a  joker's bells and a steam train riding on rails, to a land of butterflies, lizards and baseball games... all of Johnny's favorites. Father laughed. Oh, did he laugh. He tried to keep from hooting and gently rolled out soft laughter. His open heart washed over us with glory.

     Oh..., my mind alerted me. When papa laughed like that, I was at once reminded of the past, back to a time I now remembered... when I was no taller than his legs.

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