“What is that?” Nicholas peered over at the tool in my hands.
Glancing down, I automatically replied, “It’s called a ‘hoe’ and then I found myself taken aback. For the first time, I think I actually looked at the instrument held in my hands. It’s simple beauty struck me.
“It was my grandfathers,” I continued. I remembered grabbing it from a Florida garage some time after his death as a tangible connection to the person who helped raise me as a young child. After beginning its life on farm in Ohio, the hoe now worked with me on a small school garden field. Today five year old Nicholas catches a glimpse of it for the first time- I’m sure my own father at the same age shared an intimate relationship with the hoe as a contributing member of life on a farm.
“It’s very old,” I smiled meeting Nicholas’s eyes. “If my grandfather was alive today he would be one hundred and eleven years old.”
“How old was he when he died?” Nicholas inquired.
“95. He was pretty old when he died.”
“My grandfather was 71. He died two years ago.” Nicholas continued to hold my gaze. Taking a break, we sat down on the picnic table sipping from our water bottles.
“That’s pretty young.” I mused out loud, ” My dad just turned 70.”
“My grandma is 74.” Then Nicholas turned to me and said,
“So your grandfather died 17 years ago.” For the second time I found myself taken aback. And using my fingers to double check his math, confirmed, “Ah ha…”
Our conversation continued as we swapped grandparent stories and gradually returned to our garden. I picked up my grandfather’s old hoe and put it back to work while Nicholas gathered the upturned weeds left in its wake. Together we grew silent concentrating on our individual tasks at hand.
“What a genius.” I thought- still not knowing if in reference to Nicholas, Maria Montessori, or nature itself.