My grandmother had a mole like a brown barnacle clinging to the side of her chin, and from it grew a hair so long and wiry that any hug came with the serious risk of an eye injury. As long as I’d known her–which was just about my entire life then–this thing was a part of her face’s topography, as intrinsic a feature as the Rocky Mountains. And as a kid, I didn’t know what to make of it.
It didn’t help that she played it up. Once, she caught me sneaking a still-hot macaroon from her counter, and told me she’d known to walk in then because her feeler had sensed my mischievous intent. She also swore up and down that she could pick up the local AM station if she lay on her back and tilted her head at the right angle. I didn’t listen to the radio, so what could I do to dispute that?
My grandfather wasn’t much better, claiming the black tufts of hair crawling out his nostrils were able to sense oncoming storms. Though at the time I did find that a bit much coming from a man who never left the house without an umbrella.
Still, I’d been willing to believe in them the same way I wanted to believe in the Easter Bunny, or summer vacations that were fun and stress free from start to finish for everyone involved. When grandma lost her mole hair, and all the rest of the hair on her head, during chemo, when grandpa wandered into the street without his umbrella, or his shoes, or the memory of where he lived, reality tried to be exactly what the cynics had said it was.
But that doesn’t mean I don’t tell those stories to my own children. Or that I object when my father takes off his shoes and says he can tell how much snow we’ll get that winter by cracking the joints in his toes. He knows, just like I discovered, that we’re all making it up as we go.
Besides, now that I’ve lost all my own hair–as is the will of nature–I can claim I’ve become solar powered, and the kids don’t bother me while I nap in my chair by the window.
I should be listening to more music that is just happy. This entire album is wonderful, and mostly fits that description, but this has always been my favourite Miracle Fortress song. Simple and direct, because happiness isn’t complicated. Nor should it be.