Memories of Blood and Soul
I don't know what Heaven might be and they say before you die you see a flashing of moments that consist of your life in its entirety and I imagine mine will be consumed by great and awful regret and shame but there might be a few glimpses still that sketch their way into the billows of the firmament beyond earth.
I remember my grandfather teaching me how to fish and introducing me to Ray Charles. He taught me how to carry a football and how to treat a woman, how to drive at six years old and how to play chess. Every Friday night I'd stay with my grandparents and he'd set up the living room into a professional wrestling ring and I'd stand way up on the couch and say, with my best Hulk Hogan impersonation, "I hear you been running your mouth old man, now you're gonna get it," and he'd say, "You want some you little whipper-snapper, come get some," before sacrificing his bones for my enjoyment while I body-slammed him on the carpet.
My grandmother grew up on a farm in Athens, Tennessee. She fed the horses and rode one of them each morning, alongside the route of a train, racing it beside the tracks and the conductor would pull down the horn while it blazed on with my grandmother's horse kicking up the dirt of earth like one of God's finest achievements that is the horse.
Her older sister was brought into the world by a drunk doctor who accidentally smashed her head in during delivery and she'd live out her entire life with retarded response mechanisms while understanding everything around her, internally, perfectly fine. She was helpless and brilliant simultaneously. Her name was Pamela-Ann and she had a childish smile even well into her sixties. My grandmother took care of her for her whole life until she died. She's the sweetest woman in the entire world, my grandmother, everyone who knows her agrees and she tried to teach me the piano when I was young, then took a look at my chubby hands and said delicately, "I just don't believe you have the fingers for the piano, Mikers." My brothers have called me Chubby Hands ever since.
My paternal grandfather tried to teach me carpentry just before he passed away. We were building a bench together when he died. He was a tough dude, Jesus he was tough. When he played football in college, leather helmets, there's one play, after a couple martinis he really relished in retelling, and we all loved to hear it, countless times. He got tackled the play previous and some bastard stepped on his face with their cleats and so the next play my grandfather ran the ball right at him, popped him in the jaw with his forearm and broke the asshole's nose.
His wife, my grandmother, comes from a set of parents who were True-Blue Christians and at the turn of the century, over a hundred years ago, were missionaries in China to preach Gospel, sacrificed their health and well-being and Western lifestyle in the name of Jesus. They traveled in a ship across the Pacific through storms and months and starvation, doing what they believed they were called to do. They were persecuted and suffered for years during their mission, all the while maintaining supreme faith in the Christian God.
Now, my family is not particularly Christian, that is none of us were really raised in the church but my grandmother still sings in the Choir every Sunday. There's something Holy in her aura, the way she speaks and how she carries herself, in the enchanting water-color of her eyes. Her soul is next to godliness but she won't tell anybody about it. She's the only live-ass Christian left and I got the privilege of inheriting some of her blood.
These are more than memories, it's the flesh and heart that made me up from darkness, the void of nothing, these are the souls who resurrected my very being from the flakes of dust.