Lies My Father Told Me  

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Chapter X

   Beaming, beaming, autumn Sunday. Grandpa and
Davie shout out their happiness, singing, chanting, as
never before. Ferdeleh's holding his head high and
seems ten years younger as he click-clack-clobbadays
along the Montreal lanes, and all the streets of Mon-
treal are sun-smiling today.
   So quickly, smoothly, the time flits through this
magic world. Sun-speckled space patterns; I race my
errands up and down mysterious stairways, back-
yards, arid balconies, chasing coal-oil lamps, sailor
hats, ribbons of medals, old prints of the city, and a
bedpan again, and a woman's dress, in orange and

   Now we're to the mountain, and to the mountain
road, and over our heads the tree branches wave
their fiery autumn colors. Light flashes through.
   "Let's fly now. Grandpa."
   "Where would you like to fly this time? Shall we
fly to the Promised Land?"
   "We always fly to the Promised Land, Grandpa!
Let's fly somewhere new!"
   "All right, all right. Where?"
   "Let's fly over the ocean. Grandpa!"
   "Good idea. Ferdeleh! Put on your magic wings!"
   As Ferdeleh slowly pulls the wagon up the moun-
tain road, magic sparks begin to fall from shimmer-
ing Grandfather. "We're going to fly."
   My face is alight with anticipation, as Ferdeleh
looks back and seems to nod, and Grandpa now
makes magic with his voice and hands. "Ssssss . . .
we're leaving the ground . . .we're flying . . . we're
flying . . . we're flying over the trees . . . we're flying
through the clouds... we're flying over the ocean!"
   "I see an angel. Grandpa."
   "There! See her?"
   "No. Where?"
   "There! She's sitting on a cloud... see her?"
   Grandpa, looking, finds her. "Yes! I see her now.
Good afternoon, dear angel. How do you do?"
   "She's flying away! Good-bye, angel!"
   During this, slowly, slowly the wagon slows. Fer-
deleh cannot make the grade, and stops. But there's
no change of rhythm to the magic of our flying as
Grandpa and I get off the wagon and go around to
the back to push.
   "Look down there, Grandpa! People in boats on
the sea!"
   "Hello, you down there sailing on the seal" chants
   We're pushing the wagon to help Ferdeleh up the
steep bit of the hill. The wagon is heavy, and the
horse is old.
   "I bet they're very surprised to see a horse and
wagon flying, eh. Grandpa?"
   Grandpa looks ruefully amused ... as he tires him-
self, pushing the wagon. "They must be very surprised.
    The captain of a small fishing boat... a painter, in
a smock, sitting on a painter's chair, before a painter's
easel, sketching the landscape before him, is very sur-
prised to see the old man and boy pushing a horse
and wagon into his scene. He calls out excitedly to-
ward us. "Perfect! Please don't move! Just stay there!
I want to paint you!"
   "Sorry, mister," says Grandpa, "but we're flying."
   The painter takes a moment to let that sink in ...
and we fly on, pushing the wagon up the hill.

   A tablecloth flutters. Red-cross pattern. Sunlight
   Grass, dandelions, and daisies.
   Grandpa is spreading the tablecloth on the grass.
Then he places a bottle of wine, a bottle of milk, fruit,
sandwiches, tin plates, napkins for a picnic. Then,
high there in the open air, he says the prayer. We
   And after, I study the leaves. "How do leaves
change colors. Grandpa?"
   Grandpa drinks wine. "God paints them."
   Grandpa, too, picks up various colored leaves. "He
sends autumn down here and says, 'Paint the leaves
... paint them red and brown and yellow and deep
purple.'" The wine has made him mellow. "And au-
tumn blows love into the leaves and changes their
   I hold out some leaves and touch them softly. "Au-
tumn blows on them?"
   Grandpa creates a mood of love, his fervor grow-
ing. "Blows, whispers, kisses, caresses . . . makes
love! Autumn makes love to the leaves, and they feel
so good; they turn red and brown and yellow. When
men and women feel love, they change their char-
acters . . . they become good and happy people.
When leaves feel love, they change their colors."
   "I love you and Ferdeleh and Mamma. Does that
make me good?"
   "It makes you feel good, doesn't it? Loving some-
one always makes you feel good, and when the Mes-
siah reveals Himself, all men will love one another, and
they will feel good and become good!"
   "When is the Messiah coming, Grandpa?" I am im-
patient that the Messiah isn't here already.
   The thought of the Messiah begins to transport
Grandpa. He tells me the secret, whispering. "The
Messiah is here. Now."
   I think my Grandpa is about to create a miracle,
and ask, believe, "Now?"
   He gets to his feet and starts to dance. "This minute.
But He cannot reveal Himself yet." Grandpa speaks
and chants and dances, turning with his arms out-
spread, dancing with evangelical joy. "When no one
will be hungry, He will reveal Himself!" Whirling.,
"When no man will be rich and have too much, and
no man will be poor and have too little, He will re-
veal Himself!"
   In complete awe I watch my Grandpa. God made
manifest on the mountain, again. Burning bush and
burning autumn leaves.
   "When the mighty will no longer oppress the weak,
and peace and justice will reign over God's earth, He
will reveal Himself!"
   Grandpa weaves his spell, snaring himself and me
in his enchantment; for Grandpa too is entranced, a
wonderful whirling dervish, white beard flowing.
"When men leam love, He will reveal Himself!"
   The mountain's crowning cross rises above him.
Grandpa starts to sing in Yiddish, "What will happen
when the Messiah comes?" stamping, clapping. "What
will happen when the Messiah comes? . . . There will
be a great holiday and joy will transform the world."
   The old man turns on the mountain. What weight
and power in his hands. Completely enraptured is the
sparrow and the squirrel. And when tomorrow comes,
can we be the same?


Chapter XI