Memories of home hit me at the oddest moments. This morning we were late for the bus. Will was at the end of the driveway waiting but Kelli, who normally drives her car, was running for the bus this morning. The dog thought it was a game and bolted after her. I didn't think Holly, the chocolate lab, should ride the bus to school today, so I tried to grab her collar in her pursuit of Kelli. I'm not sure what happened but the dog dodged me and Kelli went sprawling on the driveway. The bus driver was waiting, cars were backed up behind the bus, their headlights seemingly screaming at us to get a move on and get on the bus. Kelli got up slower than I would have liked. I was worried she hurt herself but Kelli would not admit it, especially not now when the bus was waiting and the cars were backed up.
It all probably happened in one minute.
After the crazy moment passed a strange feeling came over me. I watched Kelli step onto the bus. I watched the bus pull away and head east into the sunrise. I watched the dog come and sit at my feet. I watched the bus turn the corner and head south down the highway. I turned around and headed back to the house and during this strange, slow motion minute, a memory of my Grandpa Jantzi wandered into my mind.
I had two Grandpa Jantzi's growing up. Is that weird? It wasn't weird for me. It simply was and where I come from, it isn't unusual. Are you trying to figure it out? My mom was a Jantzi and then married a Jantzi. This may explain why I have mutant hair and eyes that don't see very well. Perhaps it also explains why math simply doesn't make sense to me. The phrase we use back home is, "not the same clan." It helps relieve some of the unease we get when we look closely at our family trees. Say it with me - not the same clan.
Samuel Jantzi was my paternal grandfather. He was Beechy Amish. He had a salt and pepper beard that tickled us when he would kiss us goodbye. He had a full head of white hair cut in the shape of a bowl. He always wore black pants and sometimes he wore a black jacket with no buttons or a collar. Underneath his jacket was a white shirt with black suspenders. His one leg shuffled when he walked. I don't know why. I don't know which leg. He had black framed glasses and eyes that I remember as dark but I could be wrong. He made us kneel down on the floor after supper, with our hands on our chairs and pray. He had a book shelf filled with National Geographic magazines. He was quiet and distant, and I would say he was stern although I'm not sure I have any proof or reason to say that. He had that aura about him I suppose. I did not want to cross him.
This Grandma and Grandpa Jantzi lived in Millbank. The other set lived in Baden. Instead of using their last names to identify them we used the place they lived.
One summer afternoon, while my brother and I were staying at Grandma and Grandpa's in Millbank, Grandpa took us to the park. Morningside park, which was just up the road from Millbank's city limits, still exists. I went there this past summer in celebration of my sister's big birthday. You know those birthdays that end in zero and begin with five? She had one of those this past summer. She loved it. In order to share in her joy, we met at the picnic shelter at Morningside park. The park hadn't changed. It's still not a great park. They still have the same equipment they had on that summer day years and years ago. A slide, a swingset, an overgrown sandbox and a bridge across a little creek where crayfish live.
I don't remember why Grandpa took us there that day. Now that I think about it, it's kind of unusual. He wasn't one to cuddle, play, or spend a lot of time with us. I'm sure we were staying in Millbank for a few days on 'holidays', as we called it, even though Millbank was only about eight miles from our house.
Were we loud and driving Grandma nuts? I don't know.
I remember getting to the park. I remember running across the grass, past the shelter, to the top of the slide and sliding down. I remember Grandpa telling my brother Robert and I to come, to sit down beside him for a minute. Which is exactly what we did.
"Just sit for one minute," he said. "A minute is a long time. You sit here with me and watch it go by."
I remember looking at the watch on his arm. I remember conversation but I can't remember if we thought a minute was fast or if we thought it was forever.
I remember his quiet assurance that we could do it. We could sit still for one minute.
My memory floats away at that point. I don't know what happened next. I imagine we went across the bridge looking for crayfish under rocks. I'm sure we went home and had supper. I'm sure we kneeled down beside our chairs and prayed. I'm sure Grandma tucked us in for the night.
A busy morning. A bus waiting at the end of the driveway. A long line of cars and headlights. A crazy dog. A daughter sprawled face first on a frosty Spring morning. Morningside park in the middle of a Millbank summer. My Grandpa from Millbank sitting surrounded by two of his grandchildren. One minute. Just one minute.
One crazy morning. One minute. A precious memory.