Grandma sat down on one of the patio chairs. We all lounged out there and talked, told old stories about grandpa. We talked about his affinity for ridiculously wild dogs and brown vans and how he wore his hat cockeyed on his head. We remembered how wild he was. When I went with him on those early mornings to market, he always smelled like black coffee.
The corn in the field behind my parent’s house was six feet high, a dark green wall that hides the horizon. We all kind of prefer the fall, when the farmer takes it down and you can see for miles: rolling hills dotted with farms, like ships rising on the crest of giant mid-Pacific waves. But there’s something about the not-yet-harvested corn that is comforting – it keeps your gaze close, stops you from getting lost somewhere off in the distance.
As we sat there, a strange thought seeped into my mind: what will it be like when I am grandma’s age? What if that was me sitting there, my spouse gone, my kids grown, my kids’ kids grown, my great-grandchildren scampering around the yard? What kind of a life would I be looking back on? What kind of a legacy will I have left?
And in that instant I was more thankful than I have ever been. For my heritage. For my culture. For my family. There is something hidden in the middle of those cornfields that will always be inside of me, no matter where I live. I have to believe that even if my children would move away, even if my great-great grandchildren return to Lancaster someday as tourists, their spirits will be inexplicably drawn to this place. That it will hold a curious feeling of melancholic nostalgia for them. That it will cause such a strange paradox of emotions to rise in them: emptiness and fulfillment, longing and satisfaction, sadness and joy.
These, after all, are the emotions that rose in me, as I sat there with my family on a warm Sunday night, late in the summer.
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