My Grandpa Ralph lived on a farm in eastern Colorado. My childhood is peppered with the scent memories of dust, wheat, and land in various stages of growth. I remember the quiet, and the dark, so different from those things in the city. I remember the false rug painted on the wooden floor, the old combine we would clamber around on, and the rooms full of my father’s and aunt’s childhood artifacts. What I remember the most though, is my Grandpa waving to us from the path, every time we drove away.
The path was really, really long. We would say our goodbyes, give our hugs and kisses, get in the car, and he would come into the lane. As we slowly drove off his arm would raise, his face would light up with a smile, and he would wave. And wave, and wave, and wave. He would wave and I would stare out the back window of the car waving back. I would watch him until we turned onto the main road, when he would lower his arm and turn to go back inside the house.
He never stopped waving to us. It wasn’t just something he did when I was small. I remember watching out the back window as a teenager, too cool to admit I would have been crushed if the tradition hadn’t continued, and relieved and pleased to discover he was still there, waving.
My Grandpa’s waving is what keeps me standing outside my daughter’s school in the morning, in all types weather, waving and smiling and blowing kisses as she runs inside. I never get back into the car before she gets into the building. I never turn to walk back home until she is completely inside. I remember how nice it is to be able to look back over your shoulder, time and time again, and always see someone waving to you.