Last night, my uncle told me that he and my other uncle have completely cleared my grandma's house out. He said it is now empty.
I've known that they were in the process of moving her things for a while now. She moved in to her new place a few weeks ago. And we've all had conversations about what a tough time this is. And I've tried to stay the unsentimental course. My message has been everything's temporary. And the pros of Grandma finally moving to Goshen -- cultural and spiritual center of Elkhart County -- far outweigh the cons.
But then I hear that her house is now completely empty and I feel as though I've been punched in the gut.
More than any other place, Grandma and Grandpa's house has been my home since the day I was born. I don't mean that as a slight against my mom or Bob or the Minichillos. But there's something about 125 Hollywood Avenue I've never found anywhere else.
You know that old meditation cliché, when they tell you to close your eyes and, go to that special, safe place? That's where I always went.
I suppose I could go on a long memory bender.
For some reason the first one that pops in my mind is the time I ate a pound of walnuts in front of the TV. I got a horrible stomach ache and I begged grandma to give me Alka Seltzer. But she accidently gave me Efferdent. Fearing she'd poisoned me, she tried to get me to let her stick her finger down my throat so I'd throw up. But I refused, and lived anyway.
Or when I called my grandpa's bluff. Whenever I asked him what he wanted for Christmas he always said, "A good boy." So one year I cut a bunch of pictures of good boys out of a magazine and gave them to him.
Or the tree house he built for me.
I could really go on and on, and on.
But the memory I always come back to is a summer when I was home from college. It was a perfect day and I was laying in the hammock with a book and some sweetened ice tea in one of those tall green glasses they used to have. I don't remember the book I was reading, only that it was one of those good ones you don't want to end. At the close of one of the chapters, I laid the book on my chest and looked up at the late afternoon sunlight sifting through the leaves of the old pin oak. Time was moving neither too slowly nor too fast. I was young and content that I was exactly where I needed to be.
I had several more moments like that over that summer, and a few times in my visits since. But gradually the pace of life has outclipped even the serenity of the granfolks' place. I've tried many, many times to bring that feeling back. Haven't succeeded yet.