March 12, 2008
By Kristin Brig, Knoxville, TN

It was springtime. Laura walked along the path, checking behind her constantly. Flowers blossomed in a grove next to the path. Laura found herself wanting some privacy before her grandmother came to stay with her family the next day. She sat down on her favorite rock, thinking it over.

Laura’s grandmother Mary Sue was a lady with Alzheimer’s and incapable of living on her own. Oftentimes, Laura found herself wishing that her grandmother did not have to live at Shady Grove Nursing Home. Now, she wished her grandmother still lived there. No longer would she have any more privacy at home. Her room would be constantly occupied because her two sisters were to be staying in her room for the time their grandmother was staying with them.

Laura sighed, staring up at the treetops above her. Heaven seemed a long way up, and she never failed to think of it. Never had she considered it before, but her grandmother would be perfect for heaven. In the Catholic faith, they believed everyone was perfect once they arrived in heaven to stay. No one was shorter or taller than anyone else, there was no cultural racism; there was only peace and celebration. It was the perfect place for her grandmother. Her home was not.

Not that she wished her grandmother dead. It was just that her home would never be the same again. Grandma Mary Sue was still stuck in the old days besides. It bothered Laura sometimes. Whenever her mom and she visited Grandma Mary Sue, it seemed as if the only thing talked about was stories about the latter’s younger days. With her big spectacles the size of moon pies, she would talk about the days back in the later 1940s and 50s. Laura would sit there, looking at the ground, the sky, and anything else that seemed to be interesting.

Now, Grandma Mary Sue was going to live with her family. Live with them were the final words in Laura’s mother’s sentence when she told the family that Grandma Mary Sue was coming to stay. Laura’s father calmly tried to limit the screams of outrage and the looks of wide-eyes from the younger children. Laura merely sat at the dinner table, frankly not believing what her mother had just said. But it was true.

“Laura!” She heard her name from the house. “Come inside! It’s dinnertime, and we’re having pot roast!” Laura sighed, turning toward her little sister Mabel’s shout. Mabel was seven years old, and she was trying to be cool in school. Laura had seen her in front of her friends. It was ridiculous. Mabel was constantly rolling her eyes around her friends, and she was scolded for it by her mother. At home, however, she acted as if she was the littlest girl in the world.

“Come on, Grandma,” Laura said as she looked toward her favorite shop ahead. Air-a-port was just a few blocks away, and Laura locked her eyes on it. “What?” Grandma Mary Sue said, blinking at Laura’s mother. She closed her eyes, trying to get a grip on the situation as her youngest son bounced up and down, yelling and pointing to the toy shop next to Cassioli’s, an Italian restaurant.

“Oo,” said Grandma Mary Sue. She let go of Laura’s mother’s hand and began to walk toward the knitting shop down the street. Laura’s mother’s eyes widened frantically. “No, don’t go that way!” She shrieked. The street had fast-traveling cars, and it was way too dangerous for Grandma Mary Sue.

Laura’s brother started to cry then, and Laura’s mother looked toward him. Her eyes showed her helplessness. “What am I to do?” She muttered, her eyes turning upward. Laura began to pout. This day was supposed to be fun, as her mother put it. So far, they had not even started shopping, and there was already trouble. Laura glanced toward her grandmother, and she continued to stare.

Grandma Mary Sue was almost to the street. The cars ran back and forth, right and left. Laura looked toward her mother, whose leg had been grabbed by her son, who would not let go. Laura looked back and forth, trying to decide what to do. I could just go and shop by myself, she thought. I have twenty dollars to spend, after all. She looked back toward her mother. But, she thought frantically, what about my brother and mother? What about my grandmother, who’s crazy enough to cross a street where she can’t see the cars that well. She stopped thinking for a moment, shaking her head. No, wait, she thought, she probably doesn’t even remember what today’s cars look like.

It was a typical crunch-time moment. But what could she do? Laura bit her lip, trying to think of a proper response to all this. She looked back toward her grandmother. She was only ten feet away from the street, and the wind from the cars passing was kicking up her hair into spirals. In that instant, Laura felt a slight push, and she started running forward.

“Wait a moment, Grandma,” Laura said, grabbing her grandmother as the street was two feet away. Grandma Mary Sue blinked up at her, her eyes huge behind her spectacles. “What is it, dear?” She asked Laura kindly. Laura looked at her softly, and said, “Oh, nothing, Grandma. I just love you too much for you to go across the street to the knitting store without me.”

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