Eyre Affairs

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Location: New York, United States

Sunday, October 30, 2005


"I surveyed the grounds laid out like a map: the trees, the roads, the tranquil hills, all reposing the autumn day's sun." ~ Jane Eyre

This fall day is as spicy as nutmeg.

Very few days are quintessential fall days, so I relished in this one: hazelnut coffee, pumpkin spice candles lit, red wine with football, a walk to the library.

On days like this I wish we didn't have gardeners. Raking leaves would have made this day even spicier.

Grandpa Hovannes loved to come each weekend in the fall when I and my sisters were little. The quarter of an acre we had was his field of dreams. Since the backyard in Astoria was too small for him to enjoy his favorite aspects of landscaping, visiting us and working on a cold fall day brought him joy.

He would come wearing some kind of baseball cap that he never bent at the brim, a red flannel coat, work boots, and a smile. Raking the leaves was a time of solitude and meditation for him. Very rarely did we disturb him. Grandma Allie would call him in for some coffee for a break, but he was quick about it and was eager to get back out to gather the layer of leaves on the grass. I wonder what he thought about all day as he stared down at the colorful leaves.

When my grandparents came to visit, Grandpa Hovannes would sometimes request that my sister, Robin, play the piano. Not playing at random, but to play a specific song: Autumn Leaves.

If you have never heard Autumn Leaves sung by Nat King Cole, than I recommend that you do so in this moment. I picture him listening to it somewhere in Italy or North Africa, missing my grandmother during World War II. He insisted on Robin playing it so often that I know the melody traveled deep into his soul to a place he would not share with anyone, except perhaps for my grandmother.

I always cry when I hear that song because I think of my grandfather. At his wake, I ended his eulogy with the ending lyrics to the song. It was fitting, and in that moment I finally understood the weight of those lyrics in my heart.

"And I will miss you most of all my darling, when autumn leaves start to fall."

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