grandpa’s fossils

When I was really young, my strongest connections to my grandpa revolve around rocks.

He lived in Colorado and climbed mountains.
I remember him taking me to cool places where he had found dinosaur bone fossils.

He was known for wearing bolo ties with rocks or fossils that he had put through a rock tumbler. In fact at his funeral, all my uncles wore Grandpa’s old bolo ties.

I didn’t make the connection to his old hobby, but for the last couple years I described Grandpa as being “softened like a river rock.”

When he was younger, I’m told he was more of a fire and brimstone preacher. But by his final chapter, he had lost the sharp edges of homophobia, nationalism, and evangelicalism.

He called himself a Baptist Buddhist and frequently wrote that “All religions are true.” *

I love the metaphoric beauty of river rocks, They are smoothed by time, not force. And that seems to describe grandpa, too. Life experiences, like the ever-flowing rush of water, removed the beliefs that did not resonate with love. All the harshness was rubbed away by the universal flow.

After reading a friend’s blog post a few days ago about rock tumblers, all the old memories of grandpa’s rocks came flowing back. I suddenly felt a deep desire to have a polished fossil of my own. So I went on ebay until I saw something that reminded me of what Grandpa used to have. I bid, won, and now am wearing a polished piece of fossilized coral.

It reminds me of grandpa. It reminds me to be softened by the flow. It anchors me to the timeless cycles of all living things.


  1. #1 written by Kelly Fay November 9th, 2007 at 14:16

    What a beautiful metaphor. 🙂 Especially with my birthday approaching. I’m not just getting older, I’m being Polished by the Universal Flow. Thanks John!

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  2. #2 written by Meegs November 12th, 2007 at 07:33

    Wonderful connections to make and wear. I love it.

    I recently had a journey into the past as well. My grandfather passed five years ago, but before he did he was writing stories from his youth… and passing them to my parent’s and I to read. It was wonderful, a glimpse into the inner workings of an incredible man. A view of him when he was happier. When he died, the stories were packed away, too painful to view at the time, and eventually forgotten. Recently, my uncle has taken to emailing the family with stories that he remembers about his parents from when he was a child. They reminded me of my grandfather’s stories, which I just this weekend pulled out of storage. What a treasure trove. It’s amazing to have something to hold on to, which keeps us close to those we lost. I feel like he’s back here beside me.

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  3. #3 written by georgette November 12th, 2007 at 23:01

    that was so beautiful to read, you brought tears to my eyes, thank you so much for sharing the love and wisdom you have gained, I have gained insight from you and grandpa caleb that will last me a lifetime


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