In my grandpa's 84th winter, he is forgetting the year of his wedding. He is forgetting the dates in which he served his country. That he is a great grandfather.
He has four children, and all of them played in the woods where this photograph was taken. When I was a child, I did too.
He remembers that the geese stay all winter and swim in open patches of water, keeping the ice away. He remembers that Red Winged Black-Birds are the first sign of spring, and the exact location of where the sun dips behind the horizon just before the winter solstice. I hope, when I move to Seattle, he remembers my visits in the year leading up to my departure.
My family's memories run deep here in these woods and on this lake, and leaving them feels uncertain, and a little bit sickening; like wiggling a loose tooth with your tongue.
Spending time on this land where the marsh grass grows and the sound of freezing ice splinters through the night, I find a lot of comfort in knowing who I am, and where I come from. When I told my grandpa that I would be leaving, he tilted his head back, patted the arm of his chair and said, "it will be so beautiful for you and your husband to do this. When God opens a door, you have to walk through it." I will be the first person in my family to live this far away from these waters. In so many ways, it is a terrifying thought. I will be taking my roots up (some of them more willing than others) and hope that they can thrive in soil that has never hosted a Sottek, or a Bufe. But in the pit of me, I know that leaving this door open without walking through it would be wrong. Leaving this place, and leaving my grandpa, is the most terrible consequence of such an exciting time in my life, but I know he wouldn't ask me to stay.
I hope next time I see him, he remembers me. I hope that in Seattle, I can remember his words.
Thank you @devinhendrickphoto for capturing this moment and spending time with me in such a magical place.
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