My Grandfather’s Eyes

“Just watching the rain,” my grandfather answered.

I scanned the dry field in front of his uncured wooden porch. “It’s sunny.”

“Hm? Oh, yes. I suppose it is. Here.” His lips stretched into a grin. “But I never said I was watching the rain here.”

I looked from the withering tomato stalks to his eyes. “You dreaming again, grandpa?”

“Deseret, do I look like I been dreaming, girl?”

I shook my head. He looked as awake as my pa when he was working the soil.

His eyes slid from the field to my face. “Child, you need to know. Your grandfather, well, I’ve always had a hard time seeing what was right before me. My mother would yell at me, ‘Clarence Bartholomew Freeman! You get your head outta the clouds!’ But my head, it’s never in the clouds, child. You remember that. I never see what’s right before me, but I always see what’s right before me.”

I scratched my head in the way that only a young child can scratch her head when she’s confused by some impossible statement like, “The Father is God, but so is Jesus, and so is the Holy Spirit,” and “Your room ain’t clean yet.”

“Here,” his deep voice called to me. “You can, too, you know. Not as good as me. No one’s as good as your grandfather, but I know you’ve done it before. Look out at the field.”

I obeyed. My brothers were working on the far end, pulling weeds and sweating like the pigs they were.

Grandfather put his heavy hand on top of my head. “Look. See what’s before you.”

“What happened to the tomatoes?” I asked.

“They’re dead. That’s what’s right before us.”

“I thought you was looking at rain.”

“I was, child. I was. I like looking on it on days like this. But I ain’t never going to see that rain again, I think. I hope you will.”

I turned away from the cracked field empty of my brothers. “Why?”

“Because sometimes before the Lord blesses us with the rain, he teaches us to appreciate it. Always the Law before the Gospel, child. Always teach the lesson so it can be learned and appreciated.”

“What about you, grandfather?”

“Just like that? You just accept I’m gonna be gone before the rains come again?”

“You never lie.”

The big, stretching grin, the white teeth popping out of his face like polar bears on blacktop. I loved that grin back in those days. I wish I could see it again. I could see all the love of God in that grin. “Child, I lie plenty. Just like every other deceitful son-of-a. But the Lord will take care of me. He’s let me see what’s before me. I ain’t worried.”

“Will I always see what’s before me?”

“I don’t know child. But for now, why don’t you look with me at the rain?” He gestured out to the blue sky and the withering tomato plants and my stinky brothers. “Just sit with me a while. Let’s see the waters. And maybe, if we’re lucky, we’ll see the rainbow after.”

Just another fifteen-minute write. The opening line came to me as I was walking through the fields my in-laws own, and I wanted to see what would happen with it. I think I might return to these two. I like them. 

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