It’s been too long since I posted. I have many updates, but I am too lazy to go into all of them. I’ll only post about the biggest one. My grandmother on my mom’s side (who I have mentioned in other blog posts) passed away in July of last year. My grandfather had already passed away (also mentioned in blog posts), so her passing meant both of them were gone. Which was a significant blow. And still hard to believe.
I am too tired right now to make the effort of linking to the other posts mentioned above. Go look through my blog. Be an active reader and put a little effort into it, why don’t ya’?
Things have been surreal. I have moments of sadness, moments of forgetting they’re gone (the most surreal), and mostly I just regret all the things we regret when someone is gone and we did not cherish them every single second. Which is everyone, everywhere. We’re human.
Sadly, my grandmother’s passing has brought on family drama having to do with “the estate”. I don’t even want to go into it right now, except to say that my mother’s brother is a giant hunk of shit covered in shit sauce served next to a shit sandwich inside a shit roll. Enough said.
Rather than blather on, I am including a writing piece I’ve been working on. I might continue it, I might not. The point was the writing, rather than the result. But I hope it gives you a sense of what I want to say.
The House in Fryeburg
Both of my grandparents on my mom’s side are gone now. Their absence renders a gaping hole in my life. Not necessarily one in the present, nor the future. But it is a hole in my past. It is a void in my foundation. It is difficult to reconcile who I am, or adequately describe who I am to anyone else who has not met them, now that they are gone. They had larger than life roles in my world. For this, I am lucky.
I could recount many stories about who they were: as grandparents, as people. I could illustrate how my grandmother was unforgivingly judgmental, yet equally as firmly supportive to those she loved. I could tell tales of my grandfather’s rampant prejudices, and just as many tales of his faith in humanity. These are real characters; human, flawed, and whole. These stories could easily be told. And I might do that some day.
Lately, however, all I can think about is their house. There were two that they lived in during my life, and I remember both well. I focus mostly on the one that they were living in when they passed away (two years apart). I believe these memories of their home stay with me, not because of my age or impressionable times, but because of how my grandparents inhabited it. Imbued with their personas, this house felt like an extension of my relationship with them. It was not just a place, but an experience. Another character in the story.
After my grandmother died (two years after my grandfather), I went to the house. It still had all of their things: appliances, furniture, clothes, photo albums, books, magazines, tools, dishes, forks, knives, and so on. But it felt empty. So very empty. Empty like it had never felt at any other time, because, when they died, so did that house.
Currently, the house is being fixed up to be sold. I have been told it looks great. Worn linoleum is gone. Floorboards are polished. Steps have been fixed. Yet, I have no desire to see it. I have such a clear and vivid memory of that house – their home – that I cannot bear to tarnish it with a new improved version of something that is already perfect to me.
Memories come in flashes sometimes. I see flashes of the way the sunlight hit the wooden floor in the dining room – playing up the golden brown, while casting tiny shadows in the nicks. Nicks that were caused by a dropped utensil or a scrambling dog claw. I can recall the sound of oil sizzling in a pan. It might be cooking bacon or it might be frying up green tomatoes, or smelt. The tomatoes may have come from the garden in front of the house, where lazy buzzing bees do not scare my very allergic grandfather.
Also flashing in my mind are seasons. I made iced tea from the canister of powdered sweetened tea on the counter, while marveling at the way my grandparents kept their house cool simply by timing the opening and closing of drapes to coincide perfectly with the sunlight and breezes. I can picture my grandfather carefully picking his way across the snowy driveway to throw birdseed on the ground by the large tree at the top of their driveway.
We’d watch the birds eating that seed while sitting at the kitchen table – a table with years of wear, scratches, and marks from the positioning of a meat grinder clamp. My grandmother would leave her toast on the top of the toaster to stay warm, only taking it down when it was time for my grandfather to make his own toast. I can hear the scrape of his chair on that old worn linoleum as he got up to tend to eggs, bacon, sausage, juice, you name it.
There was a step roughly halfway up the stairway that creaked. As a child, when I heard this step, I breathed a little easier because it meant someone else was coming upstairs to go to bed. As a teenager, I remembered to avoid it when I finally went to bed.
Holidays always felt right in their home. The house kept the warmth and smells from holiday cooking and wrapped them around me. I can picture the table set with good linens, and the good dishes, and my grandparents moving through all of this as expert travelers in their own realm.
When I look at their photos now, I still feel a sense of loss. It is an ache that will not ever go away. Nor should it. But I also feel a rush of those images, and flashes of memories. They don’t fill the hole, but they do color it in and decorate it and allow me to walk across the void now and then.