Saturday, February 27, 2010

Monsoon

Perhaps the dark grey thunderheads should have been a foreshadowing to her as she drove into town. She knew this would be a difficult trip, knew she had to make peace, say goodbye. Thankfully her sister in law had offered to take the kids for the weekend, and she was able to make the trip to the small mountain town alone. She didn’t want her kids to see her cry.

The car bounced up the uneven driveway, pavement cracked and lined from years of buckling under snow and sun; the cinders crunched beneath the tires as she parked to the left of the driveway, directly in front of the door. The house looked forgotten. Blinds and curtains pulled tight, windows shuttered and locked, the cement fa├žade seemed to ache for something warm to fill it.

She shouldered open the car door and the tears poured freely. That smell. That familiar sweet smell of fresh rain and yellow sweet clover enveloped her, and she was ten again, playing in the woods behind the house; playing hide and seek with her sisters around the lilac bushes; tromping through the forest building forts among the trees; tightrope walking the thin rock wall that separated the house from the hill and garden behind it. She knew there wouldn’t be many more times smelling that airy sweetness—perhaps this would even be the last—and she inhaled and cried even harder.

She moved the large round rock that always served to close the heavy garage door. The extra set of keys still hung inside, unseen along the back of an old wooden shelf. She grabbed the keys and headed for the door.

The house was silent. There was no vegetable soup bubbling in the crockpot, no gingerbread warm from the oven. You could always count on those things when you came to grandma’s house, something warm to greet you. It was too quiet now, too cold, too vacant. Her worn wooden rocker was still; the familiar tap-tap-tap of the heating pad cord hitting the chair as she moved back and forth lingered only in memory.

She stopped to grab a Kleenex and dry her eyes. She glanced around the kitchen. Before her stood the wall where her sisters and cousins had kept on-going records of their height each year, lines in pencil and pen labeled with names and years. The kitchen table with an oil cloth covering; the small wall lamp that illuminated it each evening and on dark winter days. That very table where she told her grandma she was pregnant-before she had even told her parents. The kitchen was in silent repose; the weathered brown formica countertops whispering a million memories. Where Grandma had taught her how to make kolache, knead bread dough, can jams and jellies. Where secrets were shared and affirmation passed in approving glances and nods. And where there was always, always water boiling for tea.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Grandma makes comments about the "ole homestead" when we drive by her street on the way to our house. This was what we knew and loved for so many years. Thanks for your memories and in sharing them so eloquently.
Love, Dad

Megan said...

It took me about half way through to figure out that you were talking about grandma's house- I started reading it over again so I could appreciate it more. Great job. XOXO