Along the rolling hills of the countryside where my grandmother lives, there is a great expanse of field. No trees, no real plants. Just lots and lots of very green grass. It doesn’t grow very high, despite the fertile ground and the fact that no one ever trims it.
My grandmother grew up in this place. Buying it back from a nice couple years after she’d retired. When she was little, her parents had to sell the property due to money matters. She’d sworn that one day she’d see it again. When she finally was able to make a trip past, she swore to herself that someday she would be able to buy it again.
My grandfather, always looking to take care of her, put money away for her secretly. Every check he got, every cent he earned, every little bit of money that came had a small chunk of it put into a secret bank account. He’d been doing this since he met my grandmother. Hoping that one day it would make them both very happy.
As it turned out, they never found need for the cash, as they pulled in a decent living and with the love of one another, never had much desire for anything else. The money sat, and my grandfather continued to stash a little away as often as he could. My grandmother never questioned the missing money, she was the sort that was in the mindset that it was his, and he could do with it as he pleased.
They were not very old when they learned of my grandfather’s bone cancer. He hadn’t been horribly sick at all, so by the time they caught it, it had advanced pretty far. Back in that time, there were no miracle treatments. There was little hope for anything.
Unbeknownst to my grandmother, he made a last ditch effort to insure her continued happiness without him, and bought a sizable life insurance policy. He lied on the form and had his doctor conceal the medical information about the cancer from the insurance company. Normally, the doctor being an honest fellow, this wouldn’t be done for anyone. But when my grandfather explained that he was just trying to make sure that his wife would be alright after he was gone, the good doctor’s heart broke, and he agreed to the fraud.
When he died, my grandmother was left with a considerable amount of money. Enough that she could forgo working for the rest of her time. She kept a part time job, to ease the boredom and did little craft things that she sold at the church and donated most of the proceeds to the choir.
It was only after a year of being alone that she had the notion to return to her childhood home. It took her a long time to muster up the gumption to take a drive past it. She had no intention of going and talking to the new owners. In fact, she had little hope that much of what she remembered would still be there.
When she got there, she found that not only could she recognize most of it, but that her heart cried out for the property more than she could resist. She drove home quickly to set about a plan.
She returned a few weeks later and spoke to the couple who owned it. It didn’t take much convincing to let her buy it out from under them. They were young and the city was too far away for them. They loved the house, they’d gotten it as an inheritance from a loving aunt. But it was too much for them to take care of. They wanted a simple little apartment with no yard.
The first time I ever went out to see her there, I was dumbstruck. I thought that there could be no place on earth as magical as that house with it’s many rooms and large furniture. My grandma bought things to mimic how everything was when she was little. It took her a while to find everything, but she eventually did and was content with it all.
She showed me around and stopped at the field behind the house. I didn’t think there was anything special about it, but the look in grandmother’s eyes caused me to listen to her as she talked on and on about the happy times in that field. She spoke of horses, though I didn’t catch all that she said, due to a bee dancing along the flowers and distracting me.
We went inside and she made me a pot of pasta noodles and her home made sauce. She cooked fresh garlic bread and we ate at the small kitchen table in silence. When we were finished, she went to the study to read, and I sat in the living room, watching television.
My grandmother went to bed early, and I fell asleep on the couch where I sat. It was the morning sun breaking through the open window that woke me. The room was chilly, and there was frost on the glass outside.
I got up and went into the kitchen to scrounge up leftovers for breakfast. Out the back window I could see fog rolling across the feild. It didn’t touch the ground and looked like it might be over my head if I were to go out and explore it. I stepped out onto the back porch and sat down in grandmother’s swing. The light creaking of the wood relaxed me and I pulled the blanket she kept out there up over my shoulders and tucked it around me.
I watched the fog play along the ground, and soon the sun was peeking around the sides of the house. It caused some of the fog to lift in wispy tendrils, and the orange color made the field look like it was on fire. I wanted to wake grandma and have her come out and look with me, but I didn’t want to miss any of it. It was so amazing to me.
I sat forward on the edge of the swing and peered into the thick white. It looked as if there were something moving within it. I was a creative child with an active imagination, and I knew it. I had to force myself to stop putting things there of my own mind, and just look.
From out of the deepest part of the fog stepped a small family of horses. A big black stallion and a few mares. With them came a variety of younger horses. They were all different colors and looked almost transparent. I blinked and focused harder, thinking that they would go away if I gave my complete attention over to them.
They did not fade, however, and stood in the field chewing on the grass for a very long time. The little ones romped about and played with each other. The older horses took turns watching for danger.
I was completely speechless.
I wanted to get up and try to get closer to them, but I was held in my spot with awe.
The older horses seemed to become restless and herded the younger ones together. The sun was rising over the house and the fog was burning off. As I watched, the horses slowly faded away, seeming to dissipate into the air along with the fog.
My grandmother stepped onto the porch just as the last of the dream was fading away. She looked at me and smiled in a mysterious way. The thoughts went unspoken between us and I pushed away my questions. I had no doubt that she knew what I had seen. It was something that she and I could share. We could have secret looks and quiet shared moments, just for us.
She took my hand and pulled me up and led me to the kitchen where she proceeded to make us a large country breakfast.
I take my family out there now, and often when we wake we find my grandmother sitting on her back porch with a smile on her face. My husband makes small jokes about it, and I don’t correct him. Someday I will take my daughter out there and let her see the fog and the horses for herself. Then she and I will be able to share between ourselves and with her great grandmother the secret of that beautiful property.