Monday, September 3, 2012

the postman

The hearse moved slowly down the narrow street where small brick houses lined each side, large shade trees hovering over their roofs.  My grandparents had lived in a house looking very much like these and not so many streets away.  

A stately magnolia consumed their front yard and in the back, a rose garden neatly sectioned, bloomed in full sun, for my grandfather, the man in the coffin, tested hybrids for a rose company.

Placed near the front walkway was a statue, a red-vested, lawn jockey.  Though still common in the south at the time, even as a child I found the fixture offensive and escaped it by entering the house through the back porch which smelled a bit musty but also of fresh peaches. 

This house is where my grandfather remained until age required he move, by then widowed and well into his nineties.

I enjoyed that plush ride to the cemetery.  In the deadly quiet, I had time to observe unfamiliar streets in the city of my childhood.

I spotted a postman.  At home, it seems we've a different mail carrier each day and those afternoons we'd offer shelter from a sudden summer downpour or leave a note to ring the doorbell for hot coffee on frigid mornings, are a thing of the past.  Is it here also, I wondered. 

He saw us too and I watched, a few seconds in slow motion as he turned, positioning himself on the slightly rounded hill of green grass to face the funeral procession.  He then removed his hat. 

I then cried.

That was a July day but I think of the postman each Labor Day, the federal holiday which sometimes falls on but always near, my grandfather's birthday. 

If the postman is still working, I sincerely wish him a very happy day off.

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