First He Died Then She Did

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First he died then she did but they both were a part of my life. They sat in their front room just waiting for visitors. You would come in and see them perhaps just sitting there with a book, sleeping, reading, or drinking hot tea. Their nursemaid would come in every once and a while to prop them back up from their slumped position or drape warm blankets over them as one by one they both fell asleep.

I was only four still not understanding the whole life or death thing. I would walk across the street to visit them with my mom and sister. We would all hold hands and whenever I saw a daisy in the field next to their house I would let go of my mom’s gentle grasp and run over to pick it for the eagerly awaiting great grandparents. Then, after climbing their large brick steps we would softly knock on the door waiting for Jenny their nursemaid to come to the window and ether welcome us in, or shoo us away. On those special days when she would welcome us in with her warm smile and her soft touch as she held my shoulder telling Calder and Marian that their granddaughter, and her two little girls had arrived.

Sometimes Jenny would be in the middle of making her wonderfully soft chocolate chip cookies and my sister and I would slip into the kitchen go get a small pinch of the batter. We followed each other around talking and laughing at jokes or just random things that little girls laugh at. We would eventually meander our way back to the front room where my mom would be just wrapping up. We would say our goodbyes and slowly walk out the door. Calder died a few months later and left Marian and Jenny alone, after his death we came over a lot more often. Jenny always let us in then and we were always welcomed with the warm scent of cookies.
On one of those days we were just making our way out of our white house and up the small path that led to the large black front gate. My mom would open it and we all stepped onto the sidewalk. We took each other’s hands and then we walked to the other side of the street. Then I let go of my mom’s hand and ran over to the field of grass to pick one of the many daisy’s that gently blew in the wind. Then I ran back to my sister and we all three walked up the steep driveway and then up the steeper brick stairs and into the courtyard. In front of us stood an immense brick house with vines winding their way up to the sun. My sister squealed softly as she pointed up at a hummingbird as it passed overhead to one of the many white flowers that clung to the vines. There were birds all around in the grass and playing in the many bird baths that were scattered through out the yard under large bushes covered in colorful flowers. With the light dancing across the expertly carved concrete as a light wind played across the courtyard, “Come on girls.” My mom said as she knocked softly on the front door. My sister and I walked slowly to her side and stopped just as Jenny was opening the door. “Come on in girls!” she said as she wiped her hands on her plaid apron. “Hi Jenny!” my sister and I chorused as we walked into the front room with our mom. “Marian, your granddaughter and her daughters are here to see you.” Jenny said as she led us over to Marian’s chair. Marian looked up at us and smiled. My sister and I walked into the kitchen with high hopes of getting a small taste of the cookies. Jenny had saved a small pinch for both of us. We took them and popped them into our mouths. My sister giggled and then we both burst out laughing. “What are you girls laughing about?” asked Jenny as she again wiped her hands on her apron. “I don’t know!” I said between giggles. “Why don’t you both go play with the toys,” Jenny asked. My sister and I waked over to the low cabinet that held all of the toys. I immediately grabbed for a pink plastic phone with a white chord. My sister reached for the small toy doll that she loved and then we both walked into the dining room with our toys and sat down under the large wooden table. We played for hours and it seemed like a lifetime before my mom came into the dining room and told us to put our toys away.
We walked back down to our house, and enjoyed the evening with my dad. Later that night we got a call, my mom picked it up, it was my grandpa. He crying as he told us to hurry up to Marian’s house. They both left leaving my sister and I fast asleep in our bedroom. The next morning both of my parents had dark circles under their eyes. They told us to get dressed as fast as we could after breakfast so that we could go up and clean out Marian’s house. She had died in her sleep and Jenny had immediately called both of my grandparents. Marian was my mom’s dad’s mom. “Girls,” my dad said as we were briskly walking across the street, “Marian is in heaven.” He took a deep breath and said nothing else. It took weeks to figure out who wanted what and what went to who and in the end my grandpa got a huge dumpster and started throwing random things out the second story window. My dad and I came over to help, I walked aimlessly around looking at the empty rooms and bare walls. I went up stairs to see what was left of their house. I went home with some knick-knacks for my sister and me to share. After that day it took many family dinners over the course of a few months to regroup and sell the house. My sister and I just went about our usual business because we didn’t really get it.
Days turned into weeks, weeks turned into months, months turned into, years and slowly but surly things got back to normal. My family and I all grew to get used to the fact that they had both passed away. I still don't understand the whole life and death thing but I think that I never will.





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