Memories are a funny thing. I’ve been thinking about specific times from my childhood lately and trying to remember as much as I can from that moment or experience. I realize I can recall a lot LESS than I could 10 years ago. Yikes! So, I decided to start blogging about some memories that might seem insignificant, but are part of why I am who I am today.
I wish I had a picture to go along with this post. It’s about a summer spent in Des Moines, IA in 1991. My grandpa on my dad’s side was dying from cancer, and since my dad was a teacher he had the summers off. My parents decided to move to IA for the summer to live with Grandpa in his last days. I don’t remember how long we were there for, felt like all summer to me. My grandma had already passed away years before, my memories of her are few and blurry.
There are certain smells that bring me back to that summer. A gas cook stove is one. Another big one is a laundry mat. To this day I can not go into a laundry mat without thinking of being at grandpa’s. There was a stone wall at the back of his yard, and if you climbed up that wall you’d find yourself in the parking lot of a laundry mat owned by his neighbors. We spent a lot of time there doing laundry that summer, and spent time over at the neighbors as well. A couple younger than my grandpa but older than my parents that treated us like family.
I also remember 4th of July. I remember being jealous of kids who had cool 4th of July t-shirts. My cousins were there by that time and my mom took white Hanes t-shirts and made all the kids matching shirts with ribbon and firework designs. You know, the type of thing you see on Pinterest now and go “oh that’s SO COOL”. I remember loading up in the van and going to watch the fireworks with the cousins.
I also remember not being so nice, hard to believe I know. My older sister was in the front yard swinging and I had a hammer in my hand and thought it would be funny to hit her on the head with it. Mom caught me, scared me to death on how someone did that and killed the other person. It was an effective story, I’m proud to say I’ve never hit anyone on the head with a hammer since.
I remember finding a bike in a store on a previous visit and saving my money so hard for it, and coming back that summer to realize it was no longer available.
The funny thing is, I don’t remember much about Grandpa from that summer. I remember being told to go see him in his room and it kind of scaring me ‘cause he was just laying in bed not looking like the Grandpa I remembered. I remember hearing panicked voices as they discovered he had tried to take himself to the bathroom and had fallen again. I remember talk about something called hospice, and how after that a nurse came every day. Driving to the airport to pick up my aunt ‘cause “there wasn’t much time left”.
I don’t remember any arguing from my aunts and uncles, and this I am so thankful for as I realize in that type of situation the ugliness of some come out. No, there was no arguing, just sitting around the table listening to them sing hymns in perfect 4 part harmony. Barbecues in the backyard with my dad’s cousins and siblings. It was like a family reunion that lasted all summer.
I remember knowing that he had died. Crying with my sister because her and my grandpa shared the same birthday and he died shortly before her 10th birthday.
My Grandpa was such a special guy, he wrote each of his grandkids a poem when they were born. It is something I will treasure every day. He always did magic tricks for us too, and ‘this is the way the lady rides’ on his knees. I have no doubt he spent hours in prayer for his grandkids and kids, in my memory he was that kind of guy.
So those are my memories from an entire summer, doesn’t seem like much but I realize it’s the little things that mold a person into who they become. If I had a mom that bought stuff for us like all the other kids, I believe I wouldn’t have the creativity to create things now. I appreciate family so much because I spent a summer surrounded by one of the most loving families I believe I’ll ever experience. And most importantly I know to never ever hit someone on the head with a hammer.