The end of my sophomore year was approach?ing. Mom called me at the dorm one muggy evening during the last week of May. My summer break would be spent with Grandma and Grandpa, helping out around their farm. The arrangement made good sense to all the family. I wasn’t fully convinced of that myself but figured it was just one summer. Next year would be my little brother’s turn.
I packed my car after my last exam and said my good-byes until the fall. My friends would keep until then. Most of them were going home for the summer anyway.
The farm was about a three-hour driver from school. My grandparents were both in their seven?ties, and I knew they really needed the help around the farm. I arrived late that after?noon. Grandma had fixed more food than the three of us could possibly eat. She doted over me entirely too much. I figured all the attention would taper off once she got used to having me around, but it didn’t. Grandpa wanted to bring me up to date on literally everything. By the time I settled in for bed that night, I’d de?cided things would be okay. After all, it was just for one summer.
The next morning, Grandpa fixed breakfast for the two of us. He told me Grandma had tired herself out yesterday and was going to rest in bed a little longer. I made a mental note to myself to not ask her to do things for me while I was there. I was there to help, not be a burden.
Grandpa surprised me that morning. Once we were out of the house, he seemed more in his own element. The farm was his domain. Despite his age, there was confidence in the way he moved about the place. He didn’t seem like the same person who had fallen asleep last night on the couch before the six o’clock news was finished.
Weeks passed. I gradually settled into a routine of daily work with Grandpa. He had a mental schedule of things that needed doing, and we worked on part of it each day. In the evenings I usually talked with Grandma. She never grew tired of hearing about college or anything I was in?volved in. she told me stories about her child?hood, family and the early years after she and Grandpa had married.
The last Saturday in June, Grandpa suggested we go fishing, since we were caught up on every?thing. We drove the pickup to the pond that day. We hadn’t expected what we saw when we got to the pond that morning: One of the swans was dead. Grandpa had given the pair of swans to grandma on their fiftieth anniver?sary.
“Why don’t we see about buying another one,” I suggested, hoping the situation could somehow be righted. Grandpa thought for a few mo?ments before answering. He finally said, ”No…it’s not that easy, Bruce. You see, swans mate for life. There’s nothing we can do for the one that’s left. He has to work it out for himself.” On the way back to the house, Grandpa asked me not to tell Grandma about the swan. She didn’t get down to the pond much anymore, and there was no sense in her knowing about it right away.
A few days later, we drove by the pond while doing our morning check on the cows. We found the other swan lying near the same spot we had found the first one. It, too, was dead.
Then July 12 came. That was the day Grandma passed away. She had died suddenly that morn?ing of a stroke. By the afternoon, my par?ents were there. The old house was soon crowded with relatives and Grandpa’s friends.
The funeral was held the next day. Grandpa had insisted on having it as soon as possible. On the second day after the funeral, grandpa an?nounced at the breakfast table, “This is a work?ing farm. We have a lot of things to do. The rest of you should get back to your own lives.” Grandpa was not a man who could outwardly express his grief around others, and we all wor?ried about him. There had been talk of his giving up the farm. My parents thought he was too old to live out there alone. He wouldn’t hear of it, though. I was proud of the old man had stood his ground.
September was nearing, and part of me did not want to leave. I thought of skipping the fall se?mester and staying around a few more months. When I mentioned it, grandpa quickly told me that my place was back at college.
The day finally came for me to pack my car and leave. I shook his hand and chanced a hug. As I drove down the driveway, I saw him in the rearview mirror. He waved to me and then walked to the pasture gate to start the morning livestock check. That’s how I like to remember him.
Mom called me at school on a blustery Octo?ber day to tell me Grandpa had died. A neighbor had stepped by that morning for cof?fee and found him in the kitchen. He died of a stroke, same as Grandma. At that moment, I understood what he’d clumsily tried to explain to me about the swan on that morning we fished together by the pond.
2009-10-27 23:16 编辑：kuaileyingyu