Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Most Mundane Things Can Change Your Life


We used to talk about the weather. That may not sound like anything special until you understand the context. What began as lessons in cloud formations and reading a barometer became the building block of relationship between me and my Grandfather.

I grew up knowing that my Granddaddy was meticulous. Everything had its own place. Certain tasks were performed in certain ways. You accomplished what you needed to do before attempting what you wanted to do.

My Granddaddy was also a quiet man. He rarely engaged in meaningless conversation. He would say, “Hello,” and “Good night,” but not much else. I remember him whistling – he was the best whistler I’ve ever heard. I remember him scolding me for running through the house, and breaking my habit of constantly saying, “Oh, my God.”

It was during the 1977-1978 school year when my sixth grade class studied weather that a door opened at my Grandparents’ house and in mine and my Grandfather’s hearts that has helped to make me into the person I am today.

It started as small talk between me and my Grandmother about what I was studying in school. Over breakfast of bacon, eggs and toast during one of my weekend visits, I started “teaching” her what I’d been learning about cumulous, cirrus and stratus clouds. Before I knew what was happening, Granddaddy stopped whistling as joined the conversation. We spent another hour discussing barometric pressure and wind and the things he needed to know about the weather as a pilot.

That weekend changed my view of my Grandfather. He went from authoritarian to superhero. I didn’t simply mimic him in the hopes that he would notice me (like the most touching scene from “Jaws” where Chief Brody and his son make faces at each other). I had come to a point where I wanted to be just like him.

Many years have passed. My Granddaddy is home with Jesus. Everything I own has its own place. But I’m pretty open about doing things in new ways, although I still do what I must before embarking on what I want. I don’t recall a lot of what I learned about clouds and wind and rain. But talking about the weather is nowhere near as mundane to me as many people make it sound.

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