Wednesday, November 09, 2005

The little white house

My grandparents' old house is going to be sold to new owners on Monday. Grandma had a buyer this past February, but they backed out. I went there to see it for what was going to be the last time then, and I haven't been back. In my mind, there was a sort of closure with it as I drove away. It was kind of rough, as you'd expect it would be with the last time being in your favorite place in the world. The house was empty, and it was just weird to see. Even though the people decided not to buy then, I didn't go back again because 1) Grandma is living in an appartment in Plainfield now, and 2) it was over with in my mind.

However, now that it is going to be gone for good next week, I am trying to decide if I really want to make the three hour roundtrip drive Friday or Saturday before I go to work. I don't know. I don't know if I want to see it empty again, but I would like to go back and just get one last mental picture of it. The white paint outside. The smell inside. The way the doors creak. The way the indoor porch is always so bright when the sun is out and the best place to watch a thunderstorm at night. The little kitchen closet that I thought my great-grandfather was in after he died when I was four. The small yard where I played whiffle baseball. The place where Grandpa's desk sat where he and I would go over baseball cards for hours at a time until we'd check to see if dinner was ready. I don't know that I want to see that space empty again, though.

Just to get an idea of who I'm talking about when I mention my grandfather, here's a story...

It was in August 1996 when Grandma had a heart attack. My dad, brother and me went to Elwood to see her in the hospital, and we were going to stay the night at the house. When we got to the hospital, Grandpa looked lost. He didn't know what to do, and I'd never seen him that worried before. He was always supposed to be the first to go. When he was six, he contracted rhumatic fever and it did serious damage to one of his heart valves. From then until he was 50, every once in awhile he had to go to the hospital. It was also the reason he didn't fight in World War II. In 1969, he had the valve replaced with a plastic one that always went "click-click, click-click, click-click," and you could hear it across the room even if you weren't particularly quiet.

Anyway, back to the original story, at the hospital, we (Grandpa, the father, the brother and me) went to get lunch. After eating some bad hospital food, we were walking back, tired and concerned, when Grandpa looked at the wall, saw a picture of a man with a big, white chin beard and started "baaaa-ing" like a sheep. All of us just started laughing. It's an example of how you had to be there to really understand the situation, but he always tried to make us laugh, even when things weren't so good.

Another example of this was that night, when we were back at the house, we had all gotten ready for bed. Grandpa's room had a door that was next to the living room, and he was standing just outside the doorway. The four of us were talking, when he decided it was time to go to bed...right now. To let us know how strongly he felt about this, he said, "Well, I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm going to bed." And then turned around, pulled his pants down, mooned us, walked/strutted through the door and shut it. It was amazing. One of the reasons being old sounds fun is because all the excuses you had when you were young come back, times 100. It is perfectly OK to moon your family members if you are 77. If I mooned family when they were over now at 24, they would all think I was weird.

But, yeah. I don't know yet if I want to go to the house or not. It's a decision between whether I want to add something to the memories I already have when what I would be adding is not particularly good. But we'll see. And this has gone on long enough. The end.

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