Excerpts from my Interview with Jack from The Grumpy Gator Saloon.
“‘A wave of yellow leaves’. I will never forget that visual and the look on her face as she looked up and to her left as a crooked smile fade onto her face as she told me the story of how she survived her incredible childhood,” Jack said as he looked over my right shoulder at something at the back of the bar. He was mesmerized, almost in a trance as he recalled the memory.
Jack was sharing the narrative of a Grumpy Gator patron who shared with him her stories of surviving a childhood full of ups and downs. A childhood characterized by unconditional love, passionate and dedicated parents and home filled with hope and optimism. Sadly, that all turned to despair and doubt and loneliness after the death of the patron’s sister one afternoon as the family was camping at a national park.
Jack continued, “Jenny’s sister drowned while the family was on a canoe trip. Jenny’s father and her sister’s canoe tipped near a rocky outcropping as he and her sister paddled into a photo shoot op of some trees. As the canoe started to tie, he list his camera to the sudden swell of the river and tried to balance the craft, couldn’t and hit his head on rocks as the canoe rolled. He surfaced. Bloody. Unconscious. Her mom, who was in the rear of a canoe she shared with Jenny, said, ‘I am going to help your father paddle over to help your sister.'”
Jack’s trance deepened as he continued, “Jenny paddled toward the capsized canoe that once contained her father and sister and looked for her sister. She called out her sister’s name. When she couldn’t find her sister, she called to and looked for her mother. Her mother was focused on her father and his rescue. She called back, ‘You can do this Jenny.'”
“Jenny told me that she then saw the trees her father wanted to shoot and felt her canoe dup and roll. She almost drowned herself and was saved by another canoeist in the area who came to the family’s rescue after they too witnessed the acvident. Jenny’s sister was found several days later, down stream nearly 2 miles. She too had hit her head on a rocks. Tragic. “
Jack went on to share that Jenny, “when in therapy, often sat on the left side of an old and worn, black leather couch in the office of an elderly, nondescript, male counselor. She would religiously stare out of the old Victorian home/office window at a maturing maple with yellow leaves.” Those leaves, according to Jack, “memorized Jenny, who slowly shared her story with the therapist over time.” He also said that those leaves and the waves of yellow dancing in the wind were a comfort to her as she began to accept the plot twists of which her life took.
Leaves, I thought, amazing form of medication. Leaves that maybe had a yellow hue if just for a few weeks in the year helped a young, grieving sister and human share an unspeakable narrative when one day healing began.