“Many have no happier moments than those … abandoned to their own imagination, which sometimes puts scepters in their hands or miters on their heads …” Johnson
My grandson wanted me to go find a parade – with floats. He wanted to ride a float.
“Why do you want to ride a float?”
“So I can play my guitar and Ginger will throw beads.”
He had a blue, plastic, guitar-shaped electronic music box found at a rummage sale that morning. To play a song, he pressed one of the eight different colored keys on the stem of the guitar. As the electronic music whanged, he grinned and held the guitar in front of him. He never strummed but he was certain he was playing the guitar.
Imagination had transported him to the realm where the impossible happens. It was the same realm where a little girl’s frilly ballerina dress had transported his sister. In that dress she became a garden fairy, twirling and gliding across the lawn … as beautiful and as graceful as the most seasoned professional.
I knew the place where she had gone to be a ballerina. I was there the summer day I sat in the rope and board swing my father hung on a branch of the old maple tree and pumped it until I was practically flying. Carefully maintaining my speed and balanced, I stood up. Swinging back and forth in the land of imagination, I wished the circus ring master could see me. He would want me to be a trapeze artist in his circus: I could swing so skillfully.
For a few minutes, I did not live in the real world where I drop dishes, run into doors and trip over my own feet. I could no more be a circus trapeze artist than my grandson will play a guitar without lessons and time spent practicing.
But perhaps it wasn’t so much playing the guitar that the grandson wanted as it was to be in a parade. If he asked me once to find him a parade during the season of Lent, he asked me a dozen times before I left that weekend. I suggested that he and his sister stand on their front porch behind the banister and perform for the neighborhood. He marched proudly up the steps, pressed the music making button and stood there smiling, holding his guitar as it played verse after verse of the same childish song. I sat in my van with the door open, watched them perform and applauded.
I thought that would fulfill his desire to perform.
I thought wrong.
I closed the van door and walked over to the porch. He looked at me with his most charming, beseeching look, “Grandma let’s find a parade …”
I was ready to call the city fathers for the date of the next parade … if only because I remember years of standing on the sidewalk of the little village of Jasper, N.Y. watching the holiday parades and longing to be one of the smiling and waving paraders.
Then one glorious summer, my late Uncle Dick entered his antique, black car in the parade and invited me to ride with him. I knew exactly what to do. I sat up straight, looked out the window and waved. A picture taken of me that day caught only the distant head and waving hand of a young girl with a Dutch boy haircut at the window of car driving slowly down the street. It was enough. I had been in a parade. I had waved at the couple hundred people that showed up for the village parade. I had imagined it, I had experienced it once and that was enough.
Hopefully, before he leaves the land of imagination, my grandson will also have his chance to ride a float in a parade and play his guitar while his sister throws beads.