On a crisp, autumn morning as I watched the waking sun spraying golden bands of light just above the distant horizon, I caught my mind drifting back in time with fond memories of my beloved grandfather ... reminiscing how, as a young, impressible boy sitting at his feet on an overturned wooden crate, as he rhythmically rocked away the idle hours in his favorite creaky chair telling me stories of exotic and faraway places of which he had visited, and of the scores of intriguing people he had encountered throughout his many travels around the globe.
With wry grin and piercing eyes that grand adventurer told of sailing the boisterous inlets off the Gulf of Alaska as majestic Blue Whales swam playfully alongside the boat launching frothy mists of water high into the briny air ... of observing pairs of bald eagles feeding their young eaglets along the sand bars and cottonwood trees as he fished for King Salmon on the Chilkat River ... of big game hunting on the plains of Zimbabwe in pursuit of Black Rhino and Cape Buffalo, and a host of other dangerous big game animals ... of going after trophy Bighorn Mountain Sheep and gigantic Brown Bear in the vast and remote wilderness areas of Alaska and British Columbia ... he told of hospitable tribesmen who dwelt near the cliffs of the Nile Valley that took him rafting down the treacherous Nile River ... of touring the immense Pyramids, viewing the Great Sphinx of Egypt and seeing ancient Egyptian mummies ... of climbing expeditions on Mt. Sinai and treks across the immense and geologically diverse Sinai Desert ... of strolling along the bustling streets of great cities such as Paris, London, Rome, Bangkok, Munich, Cape Town, Sydney, Singapore, Istanbul and countless others ... he had left behind footprints on every continent ... set sail on the seven seas ... beheld the seven wonders of the world ... had dined with rich and poor ... and so much more.
Each time my grandfather recounted one of his marvelous adventures I would express to him just how much I wished that I too could have been right there by his side at each and every instance ... his riposte would always be that "I had always been right there with him 'in my imagination,' and that was just as good" ... one lazy afternoon I asked him if there was anyplace that he desired to visit of which he had not yet been ... he began to slowly rock his old chair back and forth as he gazed toward me with those beguiling, blue eyes, then a rare tear began to inch slowly down his weathered cheek as he softly replied "well boy, about the only place I ain't been yet is to the Emerald City where my Father sits on His beautiful throne ... I sure would like to stroll down those golden thoroughfares ... fall down on my knees before my precious Lord and offer praise and thanks for all He has done ... then maybe just sit in my chair and rest for a bit 'neath the tree of life, and watch that pure river of water of life flow by clear as crystal ... yes indeed, I sure would like to go there."
One cold, winter evening I received the sad news that my grandfather had passed away ... the old man had made his way outside to sit in his chair and after a few short minutes the sound of his rocking abruptly ceased ... he had embarked on his final journey ... then just recently to my shock and surprise I learned that Grandad had never ventured beyond a fifty mile radius of the mountain homestead where he was born and had ultimately lived out all his days ... he had spent the majority of his existence thousands of feet beneath the earth's surface crawling on his hands and knees, his strong, calloused hands gripping pick and shovel digging coal by the dim light of a carbide lamp strapped to his head ... when work was scarce in the mines he fell timber with a crosscut saw and heavy double-bitted axe atop the steep ridges that surrounded the grassy valley below ... he raised livestock and tended crops on that rocky farm in his 'spare time' earning just enough money for basic necessities ... he could neither read nor write beyond third grade level ... nor could he 'legally' drive the old flatbed truck which he nervously wrestled to the feed mill in town every Saturday afternoon.
How could this possibly be true? ... all those wondrous stories of fantastic and faraway places ... then it dawned on me as I once again recalled Grandad's words ... "I had always been right there with him 'in my imagination,' and that was just as good" ... he had been clearly illustrating to me by telling those remarkable tales that I had no limits as to what I might become ... or where I might go ... or what I might achieve with mere imagination ... and I must now say that I too have traversed the four corners of the globe and experienced many incredible things ... all while strapped in the passenger seat peering through the windows of my mind ... and I know with certainty that as the waking sun sprays golden bands of light just above some distant horizon, Grandpa is slowly rocking away idle hours in his favorite creaky chair ... in the midst of the Emerald City ... 'neath the tree of life ... watching that pure river of water of life flow by clear as crystal ... while at his feet ... awaits an overturned wooden crate ...
"To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee,
One clover, and a bee,
The revery alone will do
If bees are few." ... poem by Emily Dickinson(1830-1886)