Sunday Afternoon Rocking

Déjà vu

My husband and I sat in a restaurant casually enjoying an evening meal, when I saw him. My thoughts connected with those of thirty years past, and I stared in amazement at the back of the elderly gentleman passing me. He sat at a booth within my line of vision. A lady who was probably his daughter, another more than likely a granddaughter, sat with him. I fought with myself, wanting both to take a casual trip by the booth and look him in the eye, and wanting at the same time to maintain the illusion presented to me from the back of this man's head in passing, from his profile at the booth.

The thin white hair was the same, the shape of the head the same. The build of the body almost exact, and the soft shuffling of feet past my table as I had so often heard it a lifetime ago.

He was my grandfather.or he could so well be. When I saw him pause to publicly but quietly pray before his meal, I lowered my eyes in respect, both to his prayer and to a memory. When I saw him push a napkin into his collar before eating, tears flooded my eyes. Yes, he was indeed my grandfather, or could so well be.

When we left the restaurant, I could not stand it, I had to look. No, he was not my grandfather. His eyes were brown but not the same. His smile was kind, but it was not my grandfather. I resisted an impulse to hug him, and thank him, for just a moment giving me the illusion that a long ago time had returned and a special person in my life was there again. I returned his smile, and went on my way.

It has happened to me before. I have seen my "father" sitting in a hotel lobby of Chicago, glimpsed my "grandmother" strolling down a street, shamefully lowered my eyes when caught staring at "an uncle". For just a moment sometimes, strangers can unwittingly give us a glimpse of memories past and never realize that they are in fact, a mirror image in passing of a memory buried long ago in all but our hearts and minds.

It has happened to me before. I have driven down a strange road, done a double take, and driven a bit more slowly past a house that reminds me of a long ago home place. For just a few moments, I could imagine I was in the same place of long ago, a place that no longer exists except in a heart. The landscape was not the same, but the house could be, and I painted the landscape around it with memory, and then was on my way. I have stood in an antique mall and run my hands gently over furniture like that I remember that beloved place. I have had my vision cloud for a space in time, and seen it sitting somewhere else, heard echoes of activity around me that took place long ago, returned to the present to slowly walk away.

Sometimes the reminders are not from strangers at all. I never look at a cousin without seeing a photograph of a grandmother taken in her youth nearly one hundred years ago. I wonder sometimes if my cousin notices that at times I am slow responding to her questions or that I seem to be seeing someone else. I never see the back of my son's head without thinking of my father. He does not know I sit and watch sometimes as he crosses a room. A cousin once said to me, "Jan, you will never die as long as your daughter is in the world." and I know what they are seeing when they look at her is a long ago me. And far from being hurt by such reminders, it seems to bring a bit of

Déjà vu.

Just a thought,

Copyright ©2001JanPhilpot



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