I walked into the apartment, and the first thing I saw, was my great grandparents black and white photograph. My mind instantly recalled the same portrait hanging in the small farm house in Rupert, Idaho. Memories flooded of my grandparents. I could feel the green carpet beneath my feet, the painted ceramic animals adorning the oak moon-shaped shelf, and I could hear my grandmother’s voice calling from the kitchen.
I remembered it all, the sheer drapes, the old black rotary telephone, the piano, the straw butterflies on the wall, and the orange flowered couch. The musty smell of the farm tractors in the shed, and the feeling of dirt in my teeth from running from the house to the pasture.
As my great aunt explained the photos, I felt a tear forming in the corner of my right eye. The photos flooded my mind with the treasures of my grandmother and grandfather, and the time I spent in Idaho.
Each time we would arrive to their farm, she had a tupperware case of her famous brownies waiting on top of the fridge. She was always in the kitchen making something yummy for us to eat, and I will never forget the heated sauce pan of milk she made for the stray cats that lived near the tractor tire filled with petunias.
The porch, the propane tank, the tire swing, and the tennis racquets we used to play with in the front yard all flashed in my mind. My great aunt Linda said, you have your grandfather’s eyes, and I smiled. I remember walking up his legs and doing a back flip, and of course I could never forget the nightly bowls of ice cream.
The farm house was small, two bedrooms and one bath. Water was always a concern, and I remember getting an inch of bath water to take a bath and asking everyone in the house if they had to use the restroom before I could flush.
Visits to the farm were always filled with food and laughter. Sitting around the table and conversing over a traditional dish of meat and potatoes filled our bellies and our hearts. Grandma always had a magic touch, and Grandpa always taught us something. After a day on the farm he was never too busy for his grandkids or his wife. Grandma always had the lunches ready for everyone headed to the fields for the day, and Grandpa always had time for a tractor or truck ride.
I miss my Grandparents. I miss their farm house. I miss making family memories, and I miss the little things that remind me of my them. Having dinner with my great aunt, I saw my grandmother. Her dainty fingers, and her tiny watch band draped around her wrist. I saw her smile, and I imagined her laughing.
My Grandmother had Alzheimer’s. By the time I was 12 years old, she always asked who I was. I remember being devastated. This was my Grandmother who would drive 45 minutes to Twin Falls to enjoy her favorite “Arby’s Sauce” with me. She was the woman that would start the trash fire, and the woman who would go to JCPenney to buy me a pretty dress.
She had style. She had left Ft. Worth, Texas to marry my Grandfather. Blind faith led her to be a farm wife. She left a city for the small town of Rupert, Idaho. Grandpa always made sure she had a pretty dress for Sunday, and she loved yellow roses.
When I see butterflies, they remind me of my Grandmother, and when I see yellow roses I think of her. For years I watched my Grandmother be consumed by the horrible disease. The memory loss so hard to watch, and the heartbreak I watched my Grandfather go through heartbreaking.
Life is unpredictable. We often don’t understand why something or someone appears on our journey in life. I may never know why my Grandmother developed Alzheimer’s and stopped recognizing me. What I do know, is that she loved me unconditionally, and wanted the best for me and all of her children and grandchildren.
She left her dentures on my vanity, and she always wore the same polyester pants as she aged. The things I laughed at, are the things I remember. The memories are so vivid, and something I never want to lose. That farm house taught me to always check the glasses for a surprise spider, enjoy the pink pepto bismal shaped candies stashed in the cupboard, and the value of a meal around a dinner table.
There are so many things we take for granted in life. Time with loved ones is one of those. Things change, people change, and time does not stand still. If it did, the farm house would still be the same as it was when I was a child, and I would be swinging in a tire swing, and feeding the cats with Grandma. Instead, I am recalling a memory and letting tears flow down my cheeks on a flight home to see family.
It’s the moments and the memories that matter. Make those count. If you love someone, tell them. Hug someone, cry on their shoulder, or be a listening ear. Life is too short to sweat the small stuff. The beautiful memories from my childhood are my driving force to create memories with my nieces and nephews.
The hug from my Great Aunt, was a hug from my Grandmother, and the perfect reminder that she will always be right here with me. The farm house will always live where I allow it. New memories are to be made, and laughter to be abundant, and a dinner table always to be filled with conversation, love, and support.
Thank you Grandma. Thank you for showing up for my 35th birthday, your timing could not have been more perfect.