Wednesday, January 05, 2011

The Poppy

I'm part of a group called Art for Trade and recently completed my first trade. My contribution was a poem and a pair of earrings, loosely tied together by a Viking theme. I wish I would have taken a picture of the earrings, but I forgot until they were already in the mail.

A few weeks ago, a brown paper package arrived in the mail, and I opened it excitedly to find this letter:

Nestled within sheets of blue tissue paper was a wire poppy.

My grandfather, who we affectionately called Pop or Poppy, was taken to the arms of his beloved Jesus last year. The pain of not being able to be close to my family during this season of mourning is still fresh, the saudades raw each time I call my grandmother and receive his voice on the answering machine, the realization that his bear hugs will never reach me on this side of the divide.

Poppy. In 29 years, it never occurred to me to connect the flower with my grandfather. And a virtual stranger sent me the most delicate and honoring gift to remember him by. I don't know if my artist friend realized the great significance of poppies, which are classically used as symbols of sleep, death and, more tellingly, of resurrection. Of life AFTER death. The perennial poppy may bloom for only a few days before the petals fall, but it will return. As believers in Christ, my family and I believe, just as Poppy did, that death on earth is most assuredly not the end. And I cherish the hope that one day I'll be able to rejoice with my grandfather (along with a great many others) in the continuation of this wild, wacky and eternal life Jesus introduced us to.

Just a few days before receiving this gift, I had crafted a few awkward wire flowers from a roll of wire we had lying around the kitchen. The poppy now rests in the center of the arrangement, a colorful foil against the silver blooms, a visual reminder of my grandfather and an aid to remember to pray for my grandmother, for whom life has irreparably changed. Pray for her.

I wanted to do a lovely photo montage of my grandfather and the flower, but I can't do Photoshop. It's like trying to "learn Japanese in Braille." So this will have to suffice:


anne said...



Ali la Loca said...

Oh, this post just makes me smile all over.

First, because the virtual stranger who sent you the poppy was a dorm-mate of mine my freshman year of college at the University of New Mexico.

Second, because of the beautiful sentiments you expressed about your family, life and death.

Third, because of the "Japanese in Braille" reference. I so, so, so love that song!

--jenna said...

Ali: :) The Djavan song (which I heard for the first time via Luciana Mello) was the first song I successfully translated/understood in Brazilian without continually resorting to a it's always held a special place in my music library!

Anne: Me too. While I was writing. Miss you!