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.