Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Pelican is Coming

My dear sweet grandmother is making a giant move from Lubbock, TX to Dallas to be closer to her family! For the past three years she's been in and out of an assisted living facilities and her own home so she finally made the decision to be in a settled place closer to her family.

I'm thrilled to have her here! It will be nice to be able to visit her in her new little home, stop by and enjoy a glass of tea or a cup of coffee with her, and even have her partake in some of our family meals and holidays. As excited as I am for Grandma to be closer, I am going to miss her little house.

See, her house is a special place to me as it is for all four of her kids, their spouses, and the other six grandchildren. I know everyone in the family has their own special memory her green and white house and this weekend as we move Grandma's things out and into her new home, it will be a tad bit bitter sweet to say goodbye to the house that has been apart of the history in my mother's family.

My grandmother is such a neat lady--I know everyone can say that about their grandparents and perhaps I'm a bit biased, but I truly think she's one of a kind. Born in south Louisiana, she grew up along the bayou on the Koulee Kinney, a branch in the Vermilion Bayou. That's right, we're some ragin' cajuns is what we are! At least on Mom's side.

When she got older her daddy gave her two options for a career: be a nurse or be a teacher. He didn't want her looking at naked bodies so she became a teacher and a dang good one at that. She retired as the ripe age of 70 after teaching over 39 years, mainly working with first graders.

When Grandpa got a job teaching at Texas Tech, they packed up their family and moved to Lubbock. The joke in the family is that Grandma started crying when the hit the cap rock! This house is where she's stayed the last 48 years of her life. It's hard to believe we're going to be saying goodbye to it here pretty soon. I have to remember though that home is where the heart is. Still and all, I'm sure she's feeling a little nervous about picking up her life she's made there and coming down here.

In the past few years I haven't been able to visit like I would have wanted. For some reason though, on a mother's day trip to Lubbock back before my sophomore year in college, I decided for some reason or another to take a few pictures of Grandma's house. I'm so glad I did, too, because I can't find any others from the few times I've been back. I spent some time this morning flipping through them and thinking through past visits to Grandma's house.

Grandma's house is pretty special just like I'm sure you, dear reader, have a relative's special house you love to visit. I can see myself now pulling into her tiny drive, trying to miss the poor pecan tree that's been run over about eight times. I can see myself popping out of the car and into the hot summer Lubbock air, just feels like I walked into an oven. I race across the grass, past the white rod iron decorative columns and onto her concrete front porch. I throw open the screen and push through that heavy hunter green front door and step into her living room.

Everything is in place just as it has been since I was a kid. The giant comfy chair is next to the front door although it's different, Grandpa's chair has long since been gone. There's the John Wayne statue still sitting on the floor like always. Her dining room is bright from the summer sun and she has music out of her special piano.

If I keep walking through I can enter her tiny kitchen. The room is the one I associate with the smell of Grandma's house and that's because of the gas stove--I love that thing. I have one in my apartment and I think of Grandma every time I use it. I can hear her turning on the gas with the tick, tick, tick of the ignitor before the light catches. She's got built in cabinets in her walls that hold spices and packages of jello pudding. Grandma once told me she liked to open packages of jello mix and sneak a taste when she was a kid. I think about that every time I see a box.

On her washer she has the mechanical Coke can that dances when you play music. Of course you can hear the radio from the garage that's playing some of her favorite oldies. There's the painted wine glass sitting on her counter top filled with coins to take for bread money. Big sister and I used to take a few quarters and walk down to the gas station on the corner of her street, Preston's, for summer time treats. It's been closed for a few years now.

Her kitchen window looks out of her backyard that's in full bloom with gorgeous roses and foliage like you wouldn't believe. Even though he's been gone a while, I can see Thor, her German shepherd, chasing a ball around the backyard. If I walk out the back door, I'd can see her barbeque pit going and the picnic table just on the other side. Most trips we'd come in in time for burgers or something with part of my family. Aunt D out there ready to visit with us and commiserate with me about getting eaten up by mosquitoes. Uncle B would be there in his wranglers with his white cowboy hat and hopefully a barrel full of their homemade rocky road. I can see their daughter, my cousin, as the freckled face kid running around in the backyard. It's crazy to me that she's already a young woman.

There is a path of stones that lead up to a swing that's covered in a vines. Every morning during our stay I'd wake up and head straight for the swing where Grandma would be in her caftan with the brilliant blue peacocks and the gold trim. She'd have a coffee cup in hand and the newspaper spread out on the wooden coffee table. I'd call dibs on the comics (still do) and we spend the time reading and visiting on that swing, just enjoying the morning.

Her house is the house my mother grew up in. Her house is where my sister and I built our "Kids Club" around of her clothes line. Her house is where I learned to make pain perdu ("Lost Bread" or French Toast). Her house has the beautiful backyard with the hidden swing and apricot tree I love to pick. It's given some wonderful memories to me and I hope to everyone else who has even been there. It's sad to say goodbye, but now we have the opportunity to make some new memories with Grandma here. I know we can make this next home for her just as loving and warm as she made her home for us.

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