We found Grand dead, comfortably cradled in the mahogany arms of her antique upholstered rocking chair, her beloved “Field Guide, Gateway to Everywhere” closed upon her lap, time worn hands clasped in finality rested gently upon the leather bound, pocket sized book, its 22k gold accents shimmering off the walls of her library as raging rays of sunlight pierced the windows giving the room the illusion it was glittering.
She’d been having brief bouts of dizziness, brushing them aside as vertigo “flashbacks”, her doctor wasn’t quite on the same page – “you’re not going to like what I’m about to say, Lila, but as your physician, I have to insist you stop the daily beach walks, at least for awhile.”
Being the only one of the kids living nearby (our parents having long since parted this world), I spent a lot of time with Grand, no surprise as it was obvious from the start I’d been her favorite grandchild, never tiring of her stories, forever enraptured listening to tales of the old land, of woods and elves, fairies and magic, we’d forged a bond through imagination and creativity, a love for nature and an insistence that anything was possible if we believed.
The funeral service was simple – no burial as Grand requested her body be cremated, ashes disbursed at her favorite beach during the outgoing evening tide and I, and I alone, perform this final act on her behalf with the stipulation I carry her beloved “Field Guide” and read the inscription on the inside cover before releasing her ashes to eternity.
It was almost dusk on an unseasonably mild mid-October Thursday, a light barely-there breeze blowing, when I felt a strange sensation in the pit of my stomach accompanied by a strong compulsion to carry out Grand’s final wish so with no hesitation packed the cannister containing her ashes and her beloved “Field Guide”; while driving to the beach, I nearly ran off the road as my stomach dropped for the second time – “read the inscription? there was no inscription on the inside cover of that book, I’ve opened it a thousand times…”
Barefoot, jeans rolled up to mid shin, toes gripping cold, loose sand greedily, I soon found myself down beach at water’s edge in the exact spot I knew was where I should let Grand go, where I should read the words she thought were written; pulling out the “Field Guide” to honor her wishes by going through the motions, I opened the book, the world shifting as I did, my eyes staring at what I absolutely knew to have been a blank page, the following inscription – “this, dear grandchild, is my last gift for you, treasure it sweetheart as did I and discover the magic that lies within its pages, it truly is a field guide to everywhere…”