Friday, June 23, 2006

my grandparents' whale bone

whale vertebraeIn the 1960s my grandparents began the Methodist medical missionary work they'd always wanted to do (they later worked in Nepal, Afghanistan, and, for the most time, Yadgiri, India) in Nome, Alaska. While there they found a single whale vertebra (not -ae) and brought it back home with them to Tennessee.

The vertebra sat at the bottom of the front stairs, on the sidewalk in front of a long boxwood shrub. Over the years, of course, the bone eroded away, little by little. But even as it turned more and more into dust, the bone was still recognizable as what my grandparents had brought home originally.

Though I don't remember when this was, one day I decided that the end of my grandparents' lives would probably coincide with the end of the whale bone's "life." And, in the end, that's exactly what happened: when my grandmother died in 2003 (my grandfather died in 2001), the vertebra was no longer any more than dust.

Maybe it was a fitting end for them all.