As I stand on this stairway of my grandfather’s house, it feels like he came from the moon. I stare out of the window at the cold, white, winter light. I wonder where he is now as my breath makes fog on the cold glass. It seems my memory is in tune with the footsteps he made as I walked beside him as a child.
On these stairs, I wrote my first play. In this house, as a kid I drew from pictures in the sitting room when spending time with my grandparents. My grandfather liked my drawings. He gave me a Christmas card which read ‘Merry Christmas 1997. To Lena. From guess who.’ On the back of the card it read, ‘Unknown artist’. I think my grandfather was an artist in many ways.
He liked to write his signature everywhere. Any book he owned had his signature, his address and the date. I treasure my bird book he wrote on. Valuable glass and cutlery were not spared from my grandfather’s engraved writing. Everyday he would write in a diary of everything he did during the day. Unlike my diaries, they record everyday events. My diaries always seem to be going to war, battling with strange emotions and thoughts.
Once, I remember sitting at on our living room table, the one with the thick mustard tablecloth. The same one I used to hide under when trying to stay up late and watch television. I gasped as I saw a black figure from the corner of my eye outside the window and sighed with relief when I saw my grandfather. He liked to take walks in our garden. He always walked with his hands behind his back taking long strides. He dressed in his usual attire. He wore large brown glasses, a peaked cap, long grey coat and black brogues.
Excited to see him, I rushed outside. The funny thing is, he didn’t stop walking when he saw me. I had to catch up and walk with him. We would walk in a circle around the back of the garden and as far as the bin at in the front. Then we’d turn around and walk around the garden again. I know if anyone was talking it was me. I had a habit of asking a lot of questions. My grandfather was quieter. These walks were always done in a hurried way. I liked and thought it was funny that our destination was the bin.
That garden has changed and I’m not a child anymore. I can only walk with my grandfather in my mind and now that feels like walking on the moon. Sometimes I have a feeling that rushes through me. It is a burning wish to be in certain places with people I love but nothing ever stands still. All I have is this precious mind. Strange as it seems, I look around me and everything is was as it should have been.
Dedicated to my grandfather; Frank O’ Connell.
Lena O’ Connell
Lena O’ Connell graduated from the Limerick School of Art and Design in 2009. She specialised in fine art, sculpture. Lena currently lives and works in Daegu, South Korea. She teaches English and is involved with a children’s art group.