Happy Birthday?

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Going down to my Granny and Papa’s house every day was a usual thing. Papa taught all six of his grand-daughters to always speak when we came into his house and never to run through his living- room because it was dangerous and we might trip over the tangling cords of his oxygen tank. I obeyed because I didn’t want to get snatched up with his wooden cane that was only used for this specific deed.
All of our family loved him dearly and it was obvious that he loved us back, but in the back of my mind I could feel that he loved me the most. On special occasions he would give us money which was always used to supply my candy habit, and on this specific Sunday morning, I awoke to the thought that this was going to be a special day because it was my twelfth birthday. I got dressed to go to church with Granny as I did every Sunday, and I was on my way down to their house in a flash.
I ran into the living room shouting “Grandpa!” but he simply looked at me not saying a word. I wanted to stick my hand out because I knew I had some money coming, but when I gazed upon him he continued to stare off into the distance as if he hadn’t heard me at all. At that moment Grandma came in telling us to get ready for church.
“Come on ya’ll,” Granny said. “We got to go before we miss Sunday school.” All the rest ran to get into the old burgundy Pontiac but I stayed behind to speak my last words to Papa before I left. “Bye Grandpa,” I yelled walking out the door. “I’ll see you later.”
“Bye Zandra,” he said back slowly, and just like that we were gone.

Since it was my birthday, I received lots of extraordinary gifts and got far more attention than my sister and cousins, but my attention was focused on the spot where Grandma was once sitting. She wasn’t there anymore and I began to wonder where she was.
During alter- call Reverend Tate prayed for the family who had just lost a loved one to death. I looked up to see a woman’s eyes pouring tears, and the minute I looked at her, and she stared back at me. It must have been her family I thought to myself.

Church service finally ended. We were sent to ride the church bus since Grandma had vanished off the face of the earth. We didn’t want to, but we did as we were told, and the ride back to Grandma’s was long and sluggish. The bus driver had lots of passengers on the bus that stayed close to the church, but the bus driver took us straight to Pacolet.

I had a feeling deep in my soul that I didn’t want to go back, and the beautiful white and blue flower on the front door of my grandparent’s home made me understand why. The tears began to fall. Everyone knew except for us judging by the fact that half the church was already there. Thoughts began to rush into my head and I asked myself why. Why didn’t I tell him that I appreciated him and loved him for everything he had done for me? Why did my Papa leave me?

The family members poured into the home by the dozen to show their love and support but I stayed hidden in Papa’s room hoping maybe I would hear him call my name and tell me it was okay, but I didn’t. I even wished that maybe I would hear his oxygen tank running or the sound of his TV cutting to watch Gun Smoke, but still dead silence. The faint sound of voices that I did not recognize caught my attention.
“Where is Zandra?” I heard them say.
“Is she okay?”
I came out of Papa’s room with puffy eyes and walked to the den where family members sat, and their conversations suddenly stopped.
“Hey Zandra,” one of them asked awkwardly, “How are you doing?”
What kind of question was that to ask me at a time like this? “Fine,” I lied.
“Well we were worried about you, and were about to leave, but didn’t want to forget to tell you Happy Birthday. “





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