This I Believe

Denice - Genesee, Wisconsin
Entered on June 22, 2005
Age Group: 30 - 50
Themes: family
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I’ve always been intimidated by the word FAITH.

It’s something I never felt quite qualified to speak about. Elaborate on. Even define. To be honest, I rarely think about it.

The other day, however, I found myself using the word in an outing with my son, John.

It was Father’s Day and I paid a visit to my Dad’s gravesite. John came along to keep me company while I watered the geraniums, pulled weeds and brushed away the grass sprayed on the stone by the caretaker’s lawn mower. The ten-year-old found the perfect resting spot, clamoring up and plunking down on the headstone, dangling his feet.

A stern parental order to “get down” was almost issued. Wasn’t sitting on tombstones against the cemetery rules? I could picture my Mother’s lips pursing at such a sight.

But I let John be. For I knew my Dad wouldn’t mind his scrappy grandson forsaking propriety for a seat. “At least it’s getting some use” he’d probably quip.

Besides, I reasoned, watching my son run his hands over the stone, John couldn’t get any closer to the Grandpa he’d never met. Unlike his older cousins, my son never experienced the elation of sitting high on Grandpa’s shoulders or rough housing with him on the carpet as my Dad was wont to do.

“So what do you want to know about Grandpa?” I asked. After all what better time to impart bits and pieces about the man I was missing so much this particular day.

“How old were you when he died?” John asked.

“Thirty-five,” I replied. “You were a tiny speck in my tummy at the time.”

“How old was Grandpa when he died?”

“Sixty-nine. Way too young.”

“That’s sad,” John said.

“Yes,” I agreed. “But I look forward to seeing him again.”

In a surprising move, the boy, who squabbles whenever I say it’s time for church, turned the talk over to the spiritual side.

“Mom, sometimes I think I won’t see you or Grandpa when I die.”

I fumbled for an answer that would make sense to him and me.

“That’s where the word “faith” comes in,” I said, feebly drawing from my parochial school training. “You have to believe,” I said, “even though some days are harder than others.”

As John chewed on that, I pretended to keep busy in the soil.

“When I die, I’m going to play all kinds of ball with grandpa. Football. Basketball. Baseball.” He paused for a second and then continued. “I even think I’d die right now just to see Grandpa.” Then in an almost whisper: “But, Mom, it may be too risky. I may not see him at all.”

“That’s OK,” I said. “You’re not going anywhere.”

I now believe that I can talk about faith. And that it’s something I need to explore further. Thanks to John, I’m not intimidated anymore.