Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A Picture from My Photo album

by Ingrid Prohaska

I can remember only a handful scenes with my grandfather. But I can remember quite well that he took me from my parent’s home once a weekend for a walk.

I was about three years that fall, but I can remember that scene as if it had happened yesterday. I see us walking through the wood, my grandpa held my left hand. My right hand swung with the rhythm of my steps. I wore my new ocher yellow wool-coat my mother had made for me. I can see the large pine-trees around swaying and rushing with the wind and the soft pine-needle-covered path we walked on; the roots of the trees rose out of the ground and the path was even so wide that two people could walk together.

Every time we had a rest in that small inn in the middle of the wood. The cottage was built half of stone and half of wood; it had two levels and an open but roofed room built on the house for the guests in the warm seasons. The daily business happened in the basement, the room in the higher level was only used for festivities. So we went downstairs into the warm dark wooded guest-room. The interior was simple and practical, but comfortable enough to sit in there for a long while. Opposite the entrance door on the left hand I can see the bar with all the bottles and I can also see that small show-case low enough that I could have a look into it. There they had the sweets and also the chocolates. One of them would be mine in a few moments. On the right hand there stood the jukebox. We normally sat down on the table left the door; my grandpa under the small window and I over the corner to him. The table right the door was occupied with regular guests, all male, drinking, chatting, laughing, playing cards.

I felt so proud sitting with my grandpa in that men’s world. He ordered some fruit juice and a small piece of chocolate for me and a glass of wine for himself. Then my grandpa gave me a coin for the jukebox. “Choose the music you want to listen to.” I took the coin, climbed down the wooden bench we sat on and walked towards the jukebox. I couldn’t have been much taller than a table that time but I remember a chair I climbed up so that I was able to drop in the coin and to press the two buttons, one with a letter and one with a number. I remember I always chose that one simple folksong with dialect lyrics. The melody and the refrain lyrics are still on my mind.

I’ll never forget that scene.

A few weeks later I asked my mother why my grandpa didn’t visit me anymore and I asked her if I had done something wrong that had made him angry with me. I can’t remember my mother’s words. She had to tell me with which words however but with a lot of love that my grandpa had died. And I guess she also told me that he is with me all the time.

Thirty-seven years have passed since those scenes. When I think of my grandpa today I still feel him very close. I feel that he protects me and that he loves me. And I know when the day comes I have to go over the border into the light he will be there; side by side with my meanwhile late mother. And then he will be closer to me than I can imagine today.

Copyright © 2007 Ingrid Prohaska

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