Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Giving Thanks

I'd only been to the house once since wrapping up after the funeral nearly two years ago. In fact, that one time was after another funeral. It had gone through some sibling battles amongst my senior generation in that time, but in the end had ended up where it was intended - in my mother's hands. Plans were made, scrapped, and made again. The Will had divided up some of the contents, and most of those have made their way to their intended recipients. What is left, including the ghosts, belongs to us.

But the pool is being redone, and some manual labour was required, so the family made the trek, turkey in tow, to have one more Thanksgiving at Bobi & Gigi's house. On the way, we stopped and paid our respects. It was the first time I'd been in that cemetery with the sun shining and the air warm. They appreciated the visit, even if I had to make a joke about the Saucier family next door providing some excellent gravies (and my brother then noticing the Chunkos to the south might fight them for it... we're twisted that way). It's coming up on 10 years since he left, and 2 for her. Before that, they'd been married for 62 years, an unfathomable number today.

Walking in that side door has barely changed in 31 years. I remember when the bells weren't hanging off the back, and the remote sensor didn't ding in the distance, but I was much shorter then. That cartoon face-hook was always there, as was the stove, fridge, tables, chairs, and that footstool from Hawaii. The smell hasn't changed, and I'm not sure it ever will. I'd never want it to. It's still incredibly odd to not have my grandmother lying on the couch when we walk in, and I still half expect my grandfather to be asleep on the easy chair downstairs, snorting awake as we come down and say hi, with the TV on something he wasn't watching when he fell asleep. They're still there, just not in their usual places or level of visibility. They built the house, raised 3 kids in it, and had countless visits, swims, sleepovers, Christmases, Easters, Thanksgivings, and birthdays from 9 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren. If Bobi was still here, there would have been the first great-great-grandchild through those doors, and 2 more great-grandchildren for her to fawn over. Then again, these days they're likely spoiling 2 grandsons who never had the chance to visit.

But they were there. If we argued, you could hear the chastising, and in the silence you could hear the whisper of happiness at our just being there. If that wasn't enough, as I sat in that easy chair, I noticed a nearly 20-year old magazine on the coffee table that I hadn't noticed before. I flipped through it, smiling at the bad hair, when a letter fell out. It was addressed to my grandparents, but the handwriting was undeniably familiar... as it was signed by my other grandmother all those years ago. In that moment, my most direct family was all together in the same house for the first time in decades, and I knew we'd have to make room at the table.


BamBam said...

Fantastic read Sir!
Thanks for sharing.

Instant Tragedy said...

I found a letter from my grandfather to me in his old things when he passed. It was like he was there telling me something I needed to hear today.