Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Remembering Underground and Above

The water rains on my head, rinsing away the shampoo and suddenly I'm struck again. I'm young but my age is undetermined.

Here in my grandparents' house I wander from the basement bedroom into the next room. It's a multi-purpose room...there is storage, laundry, a shower, Grandpa's workshop tucked into the very back nook. This is the most unfinished room in the house. It scares me a little but also fascinates. The floor drain sometimes bubbles up when Grandma does laundry. There are lines strung across the room that sometimes hold sheets and underwear. It seems like spelunking mission to visit Grandpa's shop.

I never want to use the shower down there. It gives me the creeps. Later, my parents install one in our house in the basement. Same type. Still creepy. I acknowledge the fact that I have some claustrophobia issues.

At the same time, I love the smell when the dryer is running. It's humid, moist, hot. It smells like heated flowers. Things are getting done. My young mind doesn't understand why some things are hung and others are dried.

A step outside the unfinished room and there is the bookshelf that I plunder for books to read surreptitiously with my flashlight. Next to the bookshelf, the pantry, which holds its own demons. The pantry holds the jarred pickles and whatever else Grandma has jarred. But it too is small, too confined. More claustrophobia issues.

If I wander up the curved stairs I can note the crack in the cinder block wall, ostensibly the result of my uncle's loud music playing during his youth. My fingers run along the painted block, my feet step carefully upon the carpeted red stairs. At the landing I look outside. I see the garage, the back yard, the covered patio. To my left I recall the coat and shoe area.

Three more steps and I reach the kitchen. The refrigerator is in front of me. I want a drink. I see Grandpa's sodas...Tab. Nothing for me. I wander to the sink in the corner of the kitchen. I see a plastic suction soap keeper in olive green. I see Grandma's decorative knick knacks.

About face and I see the dining room table. The table that there was never room for us kids at Thanksgiving. We were blessed to have such a big family in a small house that the kids had to eat in a back bedroom. I always wanted to eat at the big table. Instead I ate at a tall orange table with my brother and often, my Aunt.

There, near the table is the phone. I kind of hate that phone now. It's yellow. It's in a phone nook. It seems innocent. It's the phone my Grandma was talking on when she had her fatal heart attack. The table is where she lay slumped back. I didn't see her but I heard. I haven't forgotten. I was working. I was seventeen.

My mom called me at work and I didn't recognize something was wrong in her voice before I said something stupid. I don't remember what it was but it was something a stupid seventeen year old would say.

Grandma had a heart attack. Come to the hospital.

Grandpa was gone for 3 years by then. It didn't seem right that Grandma might be gone too. I was supposed to graduate high school in the Spring. Grandma was supposed to be there. I was still naive and hopeful. Grandma was going to be alright.

I remember my grandfather's funeral. My young cousin asked to take Grandpa a piece of cake. I was 14. I don't remember what I said to her but her wish crushed me.

Time eases pain. I suppose. We get busy. We move on. We still remember.

4 people like me!:

Anonymous said...

God Bless........KaB

great auntie sue said...

i don't cry very easily, especially when just reading something, but i have tears in my eyes- thanks that was wonderful

A Vapid Blonde said...

As much as this is making me uncomfortable for my own reasons, I find peace in your written voice.

Seriously! You make me want to be a better writer.

for a different kind of girl said...

I've kept this in my Reader for several days to come back and read again. Reading this reminded me of spending time in my grandparent's house. There were places we just couldn't go, but I remember always running my fingers over the piano when I would walk through the living room toward the back deck, where I most often saw my grandpa out mowing on his riding tractor. I loved when we could convince my grandma to play a bit. The piano was horribly out of tune, but it felt like watching a younger woman when she'd play and laugh.

My grandparents passed away several years ago, and I have an uncle who still lives in that house, but it's been years since I've been in it. I like to think it would still smell the same if I were go to in today.

This was truly a beautiful piece.

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