The rain had passed and sunlight shone like gold through the clouds. Benjamin and his grandfather were on the veranda having lunch and smelling Grandmother's chocolate chip cookies. There was no place where Benjamin would have rather been. For here in the great blue mountains was everything a boy could have wished for.
No video game at home in New York could be compared to skipping rocks in Grandfather's pond. No arcade was like playing pirates, swinging from the peach trees. No fancy water gun was anything compared to just sitting with Grandpa on the porch swing, eating cherries and watching the sun go down.
And so Benjamin came there every summer. He didn't
care in those days for the hot city and dirty boys
playing silly games. He insisted on going to his
Grandfather even though his parents despised the idea.
"Your Grandfather is old, it is very hard for him to have you over"
But Benjamin knew that was not the reason.
And so as they sat outside having soup and sandwiches
Grandfather put his spoon down softly and asked.
"Did you ever see a rainbow, Bennie?"
"Oh yea, sure, all over" Benjamin was surprised at the look of chagrin on Grandpa's face
"Not a real one of course! Mommie just draws them for me a lot.
"why, you don't like rainbows?"
"well Bennie they are very beautiful, but they mean a very bad thing..."
And so Grandfather began to tell him the story of Noah and his ark.
"Oh that one, the nuns told us all about it in Sunday school, Grandpa, Grandpa, why do you look so unhappy?"
"No, no Bennie, don't worry, it's nothing, but anyway a rainbow means that G-d is angry at the world, that he wants to destroy it, but G-d is kind, he has pity, and so instead he shows a rainbow.
"Oh I see, pass the cookies please."
But in the way of children, Bennie did not forget.
Rainbows made Grandfather unhappy, he did not like
them, because they meant that G-d wanted to destroy
"So Grandpa, if I ever see a rainbow, I shouldn't tell you about it, right?
"Right" Grandfather answered softly.
Summer flew by, the winds turned cold, and silently Grandma began packing Bennie's things for the long trip home. They walked together to the station and Bennie kissed each of them good bye. With a wave and a happy shout their little boy was gone as the train whistled off into the sunset.
It was the last happy year of childhood for Bennie. He began to get in trouble at public school. At first it was the cute little antics of a fourth grader, but soon enough his parents stopped smiling. They met with the principle, they spoke to his teachers. But Benjamin was a terror, an impossible city boy, and headed for an empty future.
The boy who came back to his Grandparents that year
was not the kind one that had left. He was angry,
defiant and cynical.
"Oh Granddad quit shakin while you pray-you look ridiculous. Get that black cap off your head and put on an old man's hat!"
The Grandfather tried speaking to him, but to no avail and it was a sullen boy they escorted to the station, who left for home without so much as a good-bye.
Things got worse, he dropped school, began talking back to his parents, and going off by himself for hours at a time.
By the time he reached seventeen his Father told him to leave the house and not return till he was a decent human being. Benjamin left saying he wasn't coming back.
He walked the streets for a while and thought of his Grandfather, forgotten now for many years. It was the only place to go, why not?
He used his last change for a train and rode half the
night. By the time he finally arrived at the cottage
in the mountains a "for sale" sign was hanging on it
and the windows were dark and shuttered.
Out of sheer exhaustion and hunger Benjamin sat on the porch swing and looked out. Dawn was coming now but it was heavy with clouds and rain. From far off he could smell the peaches in bloom, the cherries, and perhaps even chocolate chip cookies. And Bennie cried then for the child that was and the way his Grandfather had loved him and the way he had scorned and betrayed him.
He ran away then. when the rain came down in
torrents, still he ran, racing for years lost, for
just one more time with the only person who was ever
kind to him. his parents didn't like Grandfather, the
old man was foolish they had said.
"He is religious and we don't want you around him"
The words echoed painfully. in his youth Bennie had believed them, but now he understood the fool he himself had been.
Where would Grandfather be? probably in the nursing home, hopefully. As he jogged into the huge old age home the rain was ending. He rushed in soaked through and weak. He asked for his Grandfather and was told that the poor man was at deaths door. Although Benjamin had no more tears the white stairs were blurry as he raced them. He rushed into the room forgetting everything and ran to his Grandfather's bedside.
There he lay. A very old man, silent with eyes closed, breathing faintly. Benjamin knelt near and held his hand. "Grandfather" he whispered "Grandfather"
The old man opened his blue eyes and gasped. He
grasped Bennie's hand and looked at him intently.
"Benyamin! Is that you ?" he cried his voice choked with emotion.
Then Grandfather lay against the oversized pillow, relaxed and smiled
"My son, he said, you are beautiful, beautiful perhaps as the rainbow"
Then he closed his eyes and the monitors began wailing, nurses rushed in followed by doctors, but there was no heartbeat, it was too late.
There was nothing to do but walk out then. Into the shining morning bright with fallen rain and lost opportunities. He looked up at the sky and there it was, for the first time in his life Benyamin saw it, and the rainbow was so, so enchantingly soft and kind, as if someone had been angry at him, so angry, but out of love had forgiven.