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I close my eyes and I can see it clearly.
Six years old am I. I must sit in the brown swivel chair and spin around endlessly. Mom gets mad at me because it’s so disruptive, but I can’t help it. I enjoy it too much
I find the little green army men in the miniature pink chest of drawers sitting on the cement mantle next to the fireplace. I create lines of them on the pink carpet next to the white and green flower print couch and have a battle of my own as she sits and reads her news paper, starting a new crossword. Not before long I become bored and find something else to do.
I ask her if I can have something to draw on. She takes me on an adventure down the small hallway. Pictures hang upon the white walls. Some in black and white, others fading from the light and age. We enter the cluttered back room. It seems as if there is a whole other world in there. Cans line the walls on shelves, a terrarium with fake plants sit on a table, giant bags of peanuts clutter the floor. Boxes surround you as you come in, leaving only a small pathway to walk.
Back in the kitchen I sit upon the swiveling throne again and chose one of the writing utensils from the white cup. The erasers never work on them, so I try not to mess up too much.
Up the steep stairs behind a wooden door holds a bathroom that doesn't work, two bedrooms, and a game room. In here room lives an enormous green pool table, large stuffed animals galore, cabinets, and a sombrero that no one ever wore. I roll the balls on the pool table into the pouches off to the side, not bothering to use a queue because of my size. Once they all disappear off the table, I take them out and start over again.
Down the stairs we go. I grab and hold onto the polished wooden bar that runs down the wall for support.
The neighbor comes over. Every time I see him it seemed as if his hair is a little whiter. He laughs in his shorts and a plaid button up shirt, like he does every time we visit.
Lunch is served; a cheese sandwich with butter on an old plastic plate and a cold Dad’s rootbeer. I eat at the magic cutting board that she pulls out from under the countertop. I sit on the hard, metal transforming chair. It’s not as comfortable as my swivel chair, but I can manage.
I set off in finding the toy cars from the chevron gas station. Three different cars: white, red, and green - all wearing fake smiles. A plastic orange cat is the shofer for everyone as the eyes on the cars open, close, and spin, looking in every direction. He drives around the house, under the unused dining table, past the side screen door, into the living room, taking a pit stop next to the open aluminum window.
A visitor comes to the sliding glass door. Soon his friends arrive as I pull some peanuts out of the bag on the counter. Generously I throw a handful to them. They each land with a popping sound as they hit the cracked and misshapen pavement.
The car is started, and Mom comes back inside. I grab my jacket and slowly put it on. I jump back up on the brown chair and give it one more spin.
She walks over to a small wicker basket with a small sandwich bag. There’s a jar with M&M’s and small other surprises. The plastic bag is full, and I take it with a smile.
We have to go, Mom says, so give Grandma a hug goodbye. I reach up with open arms and wrap them tightly around her teeny little frame.
When I think of her now, this is how I hope to remember her. Not of the other warped times wasting time away in the hospice center.
Thirteen years old am I. I sit next to the window, trying not to watch her lay there. The smell of disinfectant clouds the air around me; I wish to be somewhere else. I think of all the other times we had, and I wish that was now. I look up to mom, who is standing at her bedside. She whispers something to her, something I barely hear.
We better get going, Mom says, now tell Grandma goodbye.
With a deep breath I stand, slowly I walk over to her. She doesn’t look the same. She doesn’t have her teeth in, so her face looks sunken in. Her face seems warped in the smallest way, her wrinkles of wisdom and laughter in all the wrong places. Her cheeks seem hollow, making her face look long. Her eyes are closed. She looks so unreal.
Bye, I croak in a small voice.
Her head seems to move at the sound. Her eyes move behind the thin skin of her eyelids. A reaction I wasn’t expecting.
Now stroke her hair, Mom says.
I try to hold back the tears that want to burst and interrupt this moment- the rims of my eyes burn as they restrain the weakness of tears. My hand comes up and touches her grey-white hair. It’s thick and coarse; not like it should be.
I love you is never said. It has never been said between us before. It is not said now, and will never be able to be said again. I regret not saying it, because it is how I feel, but that time has passed, and time cannot be turned back.
We walk out the door. I try not to turn back, for I know if I do, then the tears will come for sure.
I never knew this would be the last moment I would ever spend time with her again.
Fifteen years old am I, and now I regret not saying I love you. I miss her dearly, and I wish I could turn back the clock, be small again, and live it again, knowing I only have a limited amount of time with her.
A story for Grandma