Yes, They've Met

By Jolene McIlwain

February 20, 2017

Yes, They've Met

There’s a 1/16 scale Texaco truck parked on our mantle, its frame crooked and stack bent from ways it’s been stored. I dust it. Then, I dust my son’s toolbox, an eighth-grade shop project etched with the name he’s inherited from good stock.

My husband’s grandfather drove a Texaco truck so he wouldn’t be land-poor just farming his acres, part of which my son will someday own.

Cancer took Pap years before my son’s birth.

Their shoulders are the same. Their chins, their kindness, their gait and stature, the same. The way my son looks when laughter is ready to come—his eyebrows and shoulders raising—convinces me of their certain meeting in that space before birth, after death, where energy seeks its container.

There, I’m sure, they had long talks that steadied my son for this world. When Pap laughed, my son copied his movements. Pap explained patience, wisdom, how to love the land he’d nurtured. He told my son how to recognize me, how to make me smile.

When we take our long walks through the fields, Pap’s walking there, too. When I feel, again, Pap’s hand at my elbow or see him standing at the edge of the tree line looking our way, my son pauses, picks up a leaf, or floats his hand over hayseed.

When I smile, my son says, “What?”

But, I can’t explain. It’s simply something I know.

His eyebrows and shoulders raise, and we, all three, laugh together.


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