(“Serenity”. Photo credit given to Martha Weintraub)
At river’s edge she watched them cavort like young pups, but they were nearly men, were actually men if she was honest about it, grown faster than the eye could see, soon off to other parts of the world. It was sweet to her eyes and ears. They had seen hard times. Motherless, then fatherless, but she had held them close and let them roam as needed. Or, she tried to do right. One never knew for sure. Things could end up far differently that she imagined. They might forget her, not her face, some of the better times, but forget HER, who she was and remained: grandmother but still a person with her own peculiarities, ideas. Mostly, love that knew no end. It was what she could do best she had decided when they had been left with her. But life had a way of blurring itself with each new experience.
Today, though, today. The river was brilliant. Green, full of living things. Gentled for once. The boys submerged themselves and then torpedoed out the surface, pushing and laughing. Making a scene for the nonchalant girls on the other side of the bushes. She smiled, swatted a bee away. If she sat here long enough she could see her whole life unfold, see her late husband float past on his homemade raft, his hand extended. She had been sixteen, reckless enough to take a chance and climb up and ride downriver with him. Good thing. The man and the river were both reprieves she needed. Still did. But life turned around a few times, and she carried on with it.
In time the boys would stumble onto the bank and sprawl out around her. They might wrap their arms around her and then she would shake them off, fuss about getting wet, laughing when they kissed her wrinkled cheek, and this, too, would lodge itself in her mind. Come one chill autumn or simmering summer day, she would pack up a sandwich and her folding chair and come right here. Even winter called her to the water’s edge with its mysterious ice soundings, its sleeping power. She would sit and wonder over every bit of it, her charges, the joys and little deaths that happened with human urges and dreams. There were worse losses, too. She lately felt the smallness of it all. It might feel like something more one day, or different, but she would savor it as the river talked back to her, carrying its own life past another spot with a different gathering, right into more days and nights. Never a brave swimmer, she stayed at the edge. The river knew what was needed no matter what was going on.
(This blog post was a response to Patricia McNair’s 6/28/13 blog writing prompt. It has been revised from the original.)