Cranes are the only animals to fly with their necks straight, a sign of pride as they signify the seasons change. Farmers looked for them for the affirmation of passage of time.
I moved to American before I could count to 100. My grandfather and I walked the entirety of the airport. My brown sandals spoke with a smack smack and his steps were hollow. We eventually came to stand in front of a souvenir stand. Blown glass figurines lined the shelves, animals and a menagerie of shapes. He told me to pick something out, anything I wanted. This was odd because my grandparents weren’t wealthy people, every penny counted I knew that from an early age. Feeling guilty, I picked out the smallest figurine I could find. Before I knew it, the black crane, with a stretching neck and folded wings rested gently in my palm. The tissue paper it was wrapped in was deafening, the swan’s red beak was closed tightly, like it had a secret to tell. Something to put into my box of special things, I thought. Looking up, I saw my grandfather’s eyes start leaking but I didn’t understand.
Several months later the fragile beak of the crane broke off but I still kept it amongst the special things.
I’m 22 now and can count way passed 100. Visiting him last summer for the second time since 1996 revealed to me that he had a tremor he couldn’t control.
This is for my grandfather because no matter what his condition, he will always fly and illuminate a proud silhouette.