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Grandma's Home

A feeling of tension and uneasiness fills me as I awake this morning.  The same feeling that would settle in as a child, days before the actual event, knowing I would soon be waking up in St. Louis instead of on my Grandma and Grandpa's farm.  But the farm has been gone now for fourteen years, sold after my grandfather died.  And it has been even longer since those hot August summer days, days spent on the farm soaking up every sight and sound.

No, today is the day my sister leaves to return to her home, after four intense, sorrowful days of breaking apart Grandma's home.  Grandma, who died from the consequences of a stroke, who moved to this trailer home after selling Grandpa's farm, is gone.  Now her home must be taken apart.

Lisa, my little sister, has been my soul mate during this ordeal.  We are kindred spirits in this matter, each of us possessing overlapping memories of earlier times.  Times which don't really seem that far removed, surely not almost thirty years ago.  Memories of summers spent on the farm with Grandma, while Grandpa was working out-of-town.

This morning, I am awakening in Grandma's trailer.  I have been sleeping on the living room floor, since both beds and the couch are occupied by others here for the same purpose as I.  Many times I visited this place after Grandma moved from the farm.  The sounds and smells of the farm were always missed, but Grandma's warmth was always cherished.

But why, on this morning, a morning filled with uneasiness, do I hear the sound of cattle softly mooing outside?  These are sounds I remember hearing on the farm, where the cow pasture butted up against the edge of the yard.   This is the wrong place and time for the sounds I now hear.   Slowly I become aware of another sound, the whine of rubber tires in the distance, mixed with the low rumble of the big-rig trucks.  Oh so faint at first, coming from far down the two-lane blacktop of Highway 54, but gradually increasing in volume as they approach and then roar past the house.  Highway 54, that stretch of black ribbon, connecting first the farm and then the trailer home, just seven miles apart, to other places and families in this Ozark county.  Now it connects me to other times.

Eyes closed, I listen and remember.  Then, I'm aware of yet another sound.  In the kitchen, Mom and Dad are awake and talking softly.  I listen to their voices drifting through the morning air, reassuring sounds that comfort me.  Sounds I try to catalog for future use, for that unknown future day when their voices no longer reach my ears.

Suddenly, I'm no longer in the trailer, but in the attic bedroom of Grandma's farm house.  The comforting sounds I hear are coming from the farm house kitchen.  The cattle occasionally bawl, and the sound of the family chatter drifts up the stairwell.  I listen closely, but the sound I strain to hear doesn't come;  Grandma is gone, and so is her reassuring voice and cheerful laughter.

I open my eyes, and I know I'm in the trailer, not the farm house.  My eyes fix on the front door, with its three panes of vertical, rectangular glass, set in stair-step fashion across the upper part of the door.  But the sunlight drifting in through the windows is sunlight from a different time, somehow the same, but strangely different.  The light is fresh and young, and I am again transported.  It lights not an old trailer, but the living room of a familiar farm house.

The sun has returned this morning, after the rainy, gloomy days spent burying Grandma and dividing her belongings.   Today is also the day when some of us go our separate ways.  My little sister, Lisa, will go home to Las Vegas today.  When we unite again, it will not be here.  Grandma's home is almost empty, and soon it will be sold.  Like the farm house of many years ago, which for so long was filled with Grandma's warmth, the trailer will also become a memory.

written September 1997