The Simple Things

January 12, 2012
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The things you remember from when you were young were the things that meant something to you. When it happens, you don’t think to yourself that you’re going to remember it ten years from now; the majority of the time it’s an ordinary afternoon. A place, or perhaps a chair or a rocking horse, bring back the best memories, and it’s hard knowing it’s all slipping through your fingers, and you don’t have any control over it.
“Can I please have a piece of gum?” We’d ask this question two times a day at minimum when we’d go over there. Unless we were about to eat a meal, I don’t think he ever said no. The oldest grandchild is now twenty-one, and the youngest is thirteen, and we’d all ask it the same. Ber kept the gum in an orange, plastic piggy bank shaped like a standard basketball, and it sat right behind his chair and to the right. I swear it never moved until recently, and every day I wished it hadn’t.
“Mammie, can we go play in the woods?” Rarely did Stacey or Jacye ever ask this question; they preferred to stay inside and play games. We’d call them the “Acey’s,” Tyler, Levi, Josh and Zack, and I. We’re the ones who always wanted to venture down to the river or play in the creek. Tyler, Levi, and I found the “Big Hill.” One day when we were exploring on the lease land, we found a spot at the top that was so pretty, that even I, at the age of no more than ten, knew to appreciate the view of all the tall oak and pine trees. But before you reach the top, you must climb the mountainous, steep hill, and when I did, I fell. Since basketball shorts took over my drawers, my knee began to bleed. A simple scrape of the skin is all it takes to draw blood, and blood wasn’t my friend. “Just lick it,” I remember Tyler telling me, so I did. Back then I was one of the guys, and I still wish I was.
“Mammie, can I wear some of your jewelry?” I hated waking up early, but I loved when she let us wear her gold necklaces to church. Jacye and I would always ask it. We’d stand out from all the other kids in Sunday school because we had something gleaming around our necks. It felt like we were royalty. Even though I was a tomboy throughout my childhood, I looked forward to that moment every time we stayed Saturday night. And even though I don’t like yellow gold that much, the necklace made me feel like somebody, all because it belonged to my Mammie.
Time has passed. The memories remain. But, the conversations have changed, and the plastic basketball is across the room.
“No sir. I’m Dalye.” Slowly, it’s getting worse. Slowly, he’s losing his memory.
Their normally heavily furnished house is now next to empty. They’re moving from the river house to the lake house to be closer to family. I knew this day would come. We all did, and none of us show any type of emotion towards it. Indifferent is what we pretend to be.
The house is still the same; their driveway is still the same. Structurally, everything is still the same. Even though that basketball is misplaced and empty, it contains so many memories; even though the dresser where Mammie kept her jewelry is gone, the room keeps the memories safe, allowing me to remember how it felt to look in the mirror and see a necklace. The woods look the same to me. Maybe a little browner, and the river might have a little less water. All I need is a glimpse and everything comes flooding back.
Thirty-two acres of rolling hills and heavily wooded land in Lakeport, Texas, along the Sabine River are for sale. The new owners won’t know that on that concrete slab my Ber taught me how to distinguish a poisonous snake from a nonpoisonous snake using a chalk rock. They don’t know I built a fort in the woods, and more than likely they won’t care. All I can hold onto are the memories because the actual place already slipped though my grips. I’ve done all I could, and now I’m helpless. We are all helpless. Our new goal is to make the move as easy as possible for everyone involved.

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