Xemana’s grandfather has been perfecting landscapes in this country for thirty years.  She loves to dance when he comes home at dusk, and to crawl on his lap after dinner and play with his large, strong hands.  They live in the same house; along with her father and her mother, Norma, who works in mine.

Norma began to bring reports each week of Antonio’s falls, his strange weakness, his quietness growing quieter still.  After a lifetime of vigorous long hours of work six days a week, he suddenly couldn’t pick up a bag of fertilizer. He had back surgery, but his back didn’t improve.   Each week, I listened to stories that sounded alarmingly familiar.  Late in his decline, just weeks after I had been stung with my father’s diagnosis, Norma came to my house and showed me a post-it note from his doctor with three long words on it.  They meant nothing to her.  Until I carefully underlined the first letters of each word.  A.L.S.  Like my father.  Then she looked up at me, her face registering each letter like a door closing shut.  We are sisters now, daughters of A.L.S.

After 30 years working with a green card, Antonio had weeks earlier passed his U.S. citizenship test.  After 30 years of sending his paycheck off to support his family in Mexico, he was hopeful, at last, of sending for his wife.  The children were grown; he knew them from his long bus rides home at Christmas, a few summer breaks from his labor.

And now, his wife is here.  She never leaves his sight.  She never leaves the little house they share with Xemana, the life that has shrunk survival-sized.  He cannot take his granddaughter on his knees anymore.  He finds it hard to smile.  He worked a lifetime for a time that will not come.  Xemana dances in his presence.  The household watches, waits, attends.  Norma is carrying a grandson he wants to bless.

Xemana may not remember the lap of her grandfather, the curve of his brown back, his handsome face warmed by the sun.  But the shape of his hands will always hold her heart.  Knowing or not knowing, he will always be the reason for her dancing.


~ by Stephanie on 02/20/2010.

2 Responses to “A.Landscaper’s.Shortfall”

  1. Every garden he made contains a hug for all who knew him….. Harriet

  2. wow beautiful

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: