Remembering Grandma Essay, Research Paper
We pulled into the gravel driveway a punctual half hour before our expected arrival. Great, I thought, an extra hour I would be waste at my grandparents’. Wasn’t it good enough that I was spending the entire weekend here? Did we have to get there so soon? When you are thirteen, each minute at your grandparents’ is like sitting through an oration of the entire set of the World Book Encyclopedia. Climbing out of the car, my sister and I apathetically walked across the driveway to the brick sidewalk, past the patch of towering sunflowers, and around to the back screen door.
As we opened the squeaky door, we passed from the bright sun of a spring day in Pennsylvania onto the back porch of Grandpa and Grandma’s house. We saw Grandpa’s pants hanging on the far wall, a bushel basket in one corner, and a pail with garden hand tools against another wall. We quietly stepped into the kitchen, as our mother and father trailed behind us with bags in their hands. Immediately I could smell the familiar aroma of pine scented Lysol. Grandma had stood by that product her entire life, and it appeared her senses were weakening, as the smell seemed stronger and stronger each time we visited.
Passing through the narrow kitchen, we stepped into the spacious dining room, dominated by a large, wooden table. “Anyone home? You here Mom?” my mother called out. At that time, Grandma appeared in the door of her bedroom across from where we stood.
“Goodness, gracious! Ya here already?” Grandma said, wiping her wrinkled hands on her faded apron. She began to make her way into the dining room, but before she could move, my mother had dashed across the room and was giving her a hug. Dad, Jessica, and I waited sheepishly across the room, knowing our obligatory hugs were next. When it was my turn, I felt the excessive flab that covered Grandma’s sagging arms as well as her wet lips on my turned cheek. A whiff of her cheap perfume from the local drug store replaced the scent of the Lysol scented air for only a moment.
Grandma was a small woman, not much taller than eleven-year-old Jess, and much shorter than my mother. She had the grayest hair of any old woman I knew, and she always wore it in one of those old-fashioned buns. Her hair was actually quite long. I knew because at night she would comb it out, leaning forward and combing the hair from the back of her head down to the floor in long strokes that looked like they tired her sagging arms. Her clothes nearly matched those worn by the characters of the television show, Little House on the Prairie. Not as if Grandma would know that though, as there was not one television set in the entire house (another deterrent to any amusement I might have had).
It was not long before we were all sitting around the wooden table in the dining room, looking out through the large windows. Grandpa, a man with a figure like Santa Claus, came in from the garden where he was pruning some type of plant that I had never even known existed. Cranky and cantankerous, Grandpa’s first words were, “I thought ya weren’t gonna be here until dinner time.” My dad informed him of a new route he discovered last night while examining the map. “It shaves a solid forty five minutes off your time on the interstate,” Dad bellowed, while Mother and Grandma began to gossip about their friends.
When the clock read 3:30, Grandma made her routine pot of fresh coffee for everyone, adding an egg white to the boiling brew. She always told my sister and me that the egg was put in to make the coffee a drink for kids, but now I know that this was just one of Grandma’s “stories.” Even so, I had been drinking coffee at Grandma’s house for as long as I could remember.
As the conversations continued, Jess and I asked to be excused. The latest endeavors at the local parish were not exactly my idea of a stimulating conversation. “You don’t want some cookies?” Grandma asked. “No, I want to go out to play,” squeaked my little sister. Given permission, she ran through the kitchen to the back porch and out to the yard. I followed just to relieve myself of the mindless prattle.
In a couple of hours we would be back around the table with a platter of hamburgers already in their buns being passed around and another platter of juicy, red tomato slices. By then, my cousins, Don, Beth, Joey, and Lucy would be there, and we would end up spending the evening playing some silly board game like Parcheesi or Monopoly while the adults talked about the other aunts, uncles, and cousins who were not present.
Grandma died in her sleep about five years later when she was eighty-three years old. Her long white hair had been bobbed a few months earlier because it was too much work for her to deal with. Her frame was even more diminished and her arms even more flabby than they were when I was a kid. Grandma joined Grandpa, who had passed on two years before. For the last six months of her life, Grandma lived in a retirement home, but before that, she lived with my family. I can remember Grandma combing her long hair every night, walking in soft slippers, shuffling across the dining room. She lived and died a Catholic and a Democrat. More importantly though, she lived and died the mother of four children, a grandmother of many grandchildren, and a great grandmother to even more.