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Brought up May 19, 2012

My Granny's House

Today, I went to a family reunion. It's the first one I've been to in around 5 years, more or less. My family has always been a tight knit bunch. Well, my mom's side, at any rate. Things sort of fell apart for a while when my grandmother died. Things happened that caused some hard feelings, and the end result was that I refused to have much to do with most of the bunch. I figured, they don't break their necks to come see me, don't invite me to things, why bother? I have always felt like the red headed step child with most of them, anyway: tolerated, but not overly welcome. No skin off my ass if they have their big shindigs, and I hear about them with that old, "Well you should have come." To which I answer, "I wasn't invited." In my head, most of the time, I think, "...and wouldn't have gone probably, anyway." The reunion, how ever is hard for me to avoid. It's a yearly thing at the house that was my Granny's home for most of her married life and beyond into her 40+ years of widowhood. My mom and her two younger sisters were born while the family lived there, and I'm not sure, but at least one or more of the three were born in the house.

As a child, my Granny's house was my refuge from all the garbage I was dealing with in my own home. My best childhood memories lived in the big oak in the front, in my Granny's flowers. The swing on the front porch still creaks, as it has all my life. My entire life hung from its irregular walls, ran across the not quite level floor. The smells of Granny's cooking, the way the light played on the walls and her snore at night made me feel safe. As a child, and even later, being in my Granny's house was being home, wrapped in love.

It sucks to be an adult sometimes. I would Love to be about nine years old again, running and playing in the woods, over the gullies and in the creeks. Those were days when you were up with the song birds, in at dark to get a jar for lightening bugs, scolded for slaming the door. Those were days of baloney gravy and biscuits for breakfast, macaroni and cheese with hotdogs for supper, or salmon patties, and white beans with cornbread. It was Shirley Temple, Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, and Lawrence Welk on TV. It was laughter, hugs, and warmth. My Granny isn't the only one erased from that house. My late aunt and uncle were in those walls, too. My grandfather, whom I never knew, lived there. I've seen the pictures. I could look at the picture, then the room, and almost feel him. It's all gone.

My cousin owns the house now. It's her 'weekend retreat' with her mom and dad, my aunt and uncle, next door. The swing is still there, the old smoke house out back, the old fashioned gray shingle siding. Inside, though, She has erased my Granny. See, though she grew up next door, my cousin doesn't have those memories, never needed that refuge. She is slowly erasing my first safe place in the world. The floors, the walls, the ceiling... Nothing of my happy memories remain inside. Just a glance told me this... because I refused to set foot in the house.

The reunion wasn't bad. The food was great, as always, and those who came jawed, shared, and mainly just enjoyed each other's company as they always do. But it was really bittersweet for me. I smiled at the right times, shared news, listened to some of the old stories, and the new ones, but I really didn't want to be there. It's hard enough driving by the house on my way to church. It was hard when Mama and Papa lived there, but at least they had for the most part left things alone. I got used to my Granny being gone, but it was still her house. Now, it's not. I would be a stranger inside it.

All the fancy 'remodel' did was take that much more of my Granny from me. The oak tree is gone. The broken lumpy old concrete walkway, that my grandfather made, is gone. Most of the flowers are gone. So is my Granny, and I missed her so much today. Just being at her house, what remains of it, made me miss her even more today.

Life moves forward, and so must I, but letting go isn't easy.

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