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The House That Meant Fun

"There are five things which no one is able to accomplish in this world: first, to cease growing old when he is growing old; second, to cease being sick; third, to cease dying; fourth, to deny dissolution when there is dissolution; fifth, to deny non-being." -- the Buddha

My pajamas were packed with my toothbrush. My mom was ready to go, and my sister and I hopped in the car. "Buckle up," said Mom. We were off to Grandma's for the night, which was fine with me -- time to be the center of attention, time to color, time to watch TV and eat whatever I wanted. To Grandma's house we go! My mom pulled the car into the driveway, and I saw the familiar yellow house. The house my great-grandparents lived in. The house that meant fun. The house that held my grandmother, her scents -- stale smoke, fried bacon, cheap perfume -- her stuff, her bathroom with pink cotton balls and Avon beauty products. The house was filled with silk flowers and elaborate window coverings, little dolls that she had made, and pillows with pictures on them -- all appropriate to the season.

That was then.

Today I pulled up to Grandma's little apartment (not the familiar yellow house I associated her with for so many years) to find some little trinket, something she had as long as I can remember, something dear to her, which I will make dear to myself. She is gone. She has moved on. The lump in my throat is confusing because I knew she was going to go soon; I wanted her to. I wanted her to be free of pain and suffering. I wanted these things for her before I knew how hard it would be to say goodbye.

I will make her proud when, in front of our family, I read clearly her words, her phrases, at her funeral. I will spread joy to my family as she would have wanted me to. Her "Jeri Joy." She loved me with enthusiasm, pinching my fanny and telling me how cute she thought I was. She was proud of me, and I was proud to be her granddaughter.

My Grandmother was 68 years old when she died on Wednesday, January 4, 2006. She had lived a hard life and struggled financially through most of it. She lied and said she had a college degree to get a job at H&R Block doing tax returns. She wanted to be an art teacher, but never had the time or money to go to college. She wanted to write a book, but never did. She wanted many things and only got some of them. Yet, my grandmother wasn't disappointed; she knew the beauty of living a simple life.

Grandma enjoyed her alone time. She enjoyed being predictable (my mom taught me how to have her iced tea ready for her when she would come for dinner) and reliable. She was always on time, but most often early. My Uncle Billy played football in high school and college, and there would be my grandma, earlier than everyone, so she could get the parking space she wanted and the spot on the bleachers that suited her best. It's endearing now, but it was boring when I was little, waiting for the game to start and then discovering I didn't care for football. I think I was about seven then.

I have many memories of Grandma, such as the times I would call her up and talk about troubles at school or with my mom or dad. Later in life I would call her to talk about my children, and we would share a laugh about how cute and funny or troublesome they were. I would get off the phone feeling relieved, lighter. She was my mentor, my counselor, my confidante, my friend. I am happy I knew her so well. I can hear her voice, her advice, her laughter. I hope I don't ever forget those sounds.

I wish I knew what is with absolute certainty. I wish I knew if she could hear what she wrote for me to read at her funeral. I wish I could have had her in my life forever, but her time was up, her duty done, to the best of her ability. Grandma helped my mother to be a better, stronger woman than herself, which my mom has instilled in me. That was Grandma's goal, and she accomplished it. I am eager to do more, in her honor.


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