I spent the day with my grandmother yesterday, something I am almost embarrassed to say, I never do. It isn’t that I don’t get along with her. This is simply how my family is hardwired. We rarely have much to do with one another unless there is some sort of special occasion. My aunt is the one exception to this, but she tends to give me a weekend break from the monsters every couple of months. She is amazing with my children, and they adore her, so while it feels like some sort of miraculous gift to me, I think it truly means more to them.
Regardless…yesterday was Mommom and I. She needed to go to the doctor, and so I took her. We talked about small little things: Christmas gifts, family, how the kids were doing in school, Dallas in ballet, Dude starting soccer this Spring, etc etc etc. We went and ate at Dairy Queen.
I mean, it really was nothing super special.
She did fine at the doc’s and I took her home.
End of story, right?
Nope. Nope, I got ready to pull out of the parking lot in front of her apartment complex and I see her in the doorway. She stood there alone, arm raised and waved to me.
I was immediately shoved back into my childhood and I knew she wouldn’t leave, wouldn’t budge, wouldn’t stop waving until I had disappeared from sight completely.
I knew this, because this is what she and my grandfather did every single time we came to visit. It was a sort of goodbye tradition. It just happened, every time, and there was nothing short of the cancer that took my Poppop that stopped him in the end from being able to make it down those steps to the back door to wave us off.
Something happens in these moments, these little seconds where we go back and I ended up sitting here thinking about what I actually remembered. I pulled out a box full of stuff I have collected over the years, and there on top were two clip on ties.
I don’t remember him ever wearing these. That wasn’t the sort of man he was, but I did see a picture of him at my parent’s wedding wearing the blue one. My grandmother handed these to me after he died. I never understood why. I had no memories connected to them, but I saved them and made memories for them.
Poppop has been gone for fourteen years. It doesn’t even seem possible. I have this small box, a little painted thing. Inside are two petals from the flowers at his funeral and this little moth guy. I don’t remember when I found it, but I know it was right around the time he died. I remember finding it on the floor in the kitchen of my grandparent’s house. They had dark floors and this perfect, white moth stood out like a sore thumb.
I remember the pantry I would play in, like my own private world while my parents and grandparents played cards.
I remember the little closet that had a slit in it by the fridge, and I could see my Poppop as he played. He always sat in the chair by the fridge.
I remember the brown leather couch that my legs stuck to when it was too hot.
I remember the ash tray, it was a yellowish glass. I don’t remember cigarette butts ever being inside it.
I remember the candy Poppop kept in his pocket when he quit smoking.
I remember a box full of crumpled one dollar bills that they gave my brother and I for Christmas one year.
I remember a huge candy cane full of Hershey kisses we gave him.
I remember plenty of other things, painful things, but today I am looking around my home and I am seeing the wooden Christmas decorations he made for us and I don’t want to remember the hospital bed, or how he never came out in the shed with us anymore, or that I had to walk down the big hill in the back by myself. I don’t want to remember his garden overgrowing, or their home that I loved so much being sold, or how I saw my dad cry.
No, today I want to think about when we would climb in the car and look out the window and there they would be. My Poppop and Mommom, in the doorway, arms raised and waving. They wouldn’t move, wouldn’t budge, wouldn’t stop waving until we were out of sight.