Grandma Josephine

April 3, 2008
By Lindsay Gilski, Inverness, IL

This old faded photograph was the only concrete evidence of Martha’s favorite childhood memory. The special town of Flagstaff is where Martha would spend her lazy summer days up in the mountains with her grandmother Josephine. Every July until the age of ten, Martha would pack up her treasures in a pink and white Hello Kitty suitcase along with her favorite chocolate brown teddy-bear she fondly named Cubby and head off to her grandma’s little cabin in the woods. The long boring drive thru the barren desert was never ending, but Martha got used to the steaming hot sun and moist air in her mother’s 1968 Big Bird yellow Buick. Her heart would beat uncontrollably with joy when she finally saw her frail, but energetic, white haired Grandmother running down the wooden steps waving her arms in the air like her house was on fire. The best feeling to Martha by far though, was finally wrapping her little arms around her grandma’s pudgy, apron tummy, and having grandma Josephine kissing her on the forehead till’ the sun went down. This was all Martha needed to feel welcomed. The next three weeks were spent exploring the thick forest for colorful wildflowers to press into their expanding scrapbook and playing hide and go seek with Taddy, the scruffy mutt who was my grandma’s constant companion. Every hot afternoon was spent splashing and canoeing in the calm, refreshing lake water, followed by one of grandma’s famous pimento loaf sandwiches. Before dinner, Martha’s Grandma would spend time sharing stories of all the unbelievable places she had been, people she had met, and things she had experienced throughout her lifetime. In the evenings they would build a blazing fire and roast marshmallows while singing songs and laughing about nothing. Oh, what wonderful summers they were…

It all ended on a dark December day with the ring of the telephone. The devastating news… Martha imagined the sirens and bright lights of the ambulance that would be imprinted in her mind forever. Her last breath, Grandma Josephine had left her safe little cabin by the lake and moved to a higher place. No more special summer vacations. No more apron clad hugs. No more long boring drives. There was no more.

Until this day, 18 years later, Martha still manages to make that special trip every year in July up to her Grandma’s cabin, except now the lake was surrounded by multi-million dollar mansions and gaudy condos. Although the surroundings have changed a bit, but the same ordinary smell of the maple trees and the fresh lake water still manage to bring back the distant memories of those summers spent under the trees. Martha will never forget the many fun-filled summers and unforgettable experiences she shared with her Grandmother and she hopes to one day share special memories with her own grandchildren.

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