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Shot Of The Day

Grandpa Skipping

Streets of Gold

Growing up, my grandparents sang old spirituals to my sister and me. Not the kind of music you hear today. But the kind you might have heard slaves sing to bring them comfort in their plight or prisoners sing as they pounded railroad ties into the hot rocky ground. The voice behind these songs was not Bruce Springsteen or even Ray Charles but a deep barber shop quartet with an indistinguishable mix of wistful longing and hope. Between Rock City and Ruby Falls, we sang — I’ve got a mansion, just over the hill top. From Stone Mountain to Chattanooga, we sang — In that bright land where, we’ll never grow old. Summer after summer, we sang and sang and sang as we drove the South experiencing life through the lens of our deeply southern grands — And some day yonder, we’ll never more wander. And after a while, those songs were printed somewhere on our hearts. The depth and impact of that printing didn’t become apparent to me until last week when my grandfather died. My sister, who held him while he passed from life on earth to life eternal, did what all grieving people do — she let whatever was in her bubble out. Between tears and attempts to grasp the reality of the moment, she started to sing that song which was printed on her heart. It ends fittingly this way — But walk the streets that, are pure as gold. My grandpa believed that heaven was a real place and that promises in the bible of eternity and streets of gold are literally true. I wonder now if he knew what he was doing. I wonder now if he had any idea how much comfort an image of him walking on streets of gold would bring two little girls who would have a hard time letting him go. I rather suspect that he did. And it makes me realize now that the things we repeat to our children, our friends, our husbands, our neighbors and especially ourselves… leave an indelible imprint on our souls. And when we need it the most and are struggling to grasp the meaning of it all, it will be those prints deep within us that bubble up. This was my favorite picture of my grandpa the surveyor, skipping down a dirt street, care free and full of life. He’s the one with his arms spread wide grinning ear to ear. I have a new favorite picture now. Only, I’ll have to carry this image in my heart rather than my wallet, next to the imprint of that song — Grandpa walking forever on streets of gold. With deep gratitude to Richard “Mickey” Allen Gallagher [1929-2009] for all the prints he left on my heart.

Posted: 24 March 2009