Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Nostalgia House

This is a memoir I wrote back in October 2008 about my grandparents and their old house. For my writing class I actually rewrote it and turned it into a story but I'll save that one for later..


Grandma and Grandpa are people with wisdom. They never fail to teach me life lessons, even if they can only speak a few words of English. Grandma, with her classic thick glasses, is always looking out for us. She spreads advice amongst all her children. Grandpa, with his tall, bony frame, never ceases to be the glue and leader of the pack. He had a stroke last year. It was something concerning blood and his brain, I don't remember. Almost every member of the family was either at his bedside or outside in the hospital hall. Even with his weak body, he still has the warmest eyes I've ever seen. Together, they've built not only a family, but a home in America. That big white and green two-family house on Westmore Road holds memories for every member of our over-sized family. I'll always remember those days when my mom brought me along to spend time there. She would leave my brother, sister, and I to play on the big beige couch in the font room. I still remember marveling at those big jigsaw puzzles, finished by my grandpa and my now deceased uncle some long time ago, posted on the wall. I still admire how loving my grandparents are when I remember that they wouldn't object to us playing and watching TV in their room. I still remember ogling at all the knick-knacks scattered along the top of their dresser. I still remember that wall of piled suitcases which cut the room in half that Grandma saved for some reason I will never know. I still remember the sweet anticipation that hit me as I watched Grandpa walk into his room within a few minutes of my arrival. I still remember the bubbling happiness and the savory taste of those strawberry candies that he usually came out of his room with. I still remember being slightly dismayed when he'd come out of his room and slip a dollar into my hand. I still remember that one blue bathroom. I still remember how close the actual toilet was to the door: right next to it. I still remember being really embarrassed and upset when the door wouldn't close all the way. I still remember those loud, creaky hardwood floors. I still remember being terrified and most of the time screaming when I saw a cockroach scuttling across that floor. I still feel a little bad when I think about that time when I was a little ignorant kid staying at their house for a day. Grandpa came into the front room to give me lunch, but it was a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and he had to make a plain jelly one instead. The fact that he mainly speaks Creole and that I speak only English, understanding very little Creole, didn't help. I still feel a little bad for being a picky eater. I still remember that rickety upstairs porch that was off limits, but we still went on anyway. I still remember my uncle playing dominoes on the stone wall outside. I'll never forget that he argued that taking back something you already put down was cheating. I still remember the joy and pride I felt knowing that my grandma still kept her birthday gift from me (a picture of me) hanging on the wall in her room. I still remember being scared silly when all my older cousins watched Chuckie in the front guest bedroom. I still remember the excitement I felt when I finally got to go down the basement stairs. I still remember all the birthday parties. I still remember refusing to drink the spiked punch. I still remember playing with the refrigerator magnets. I still remember sitting on the porch with my now lost and long gone Uncle Herbie. I still remember looking into the windows of the other family's house and wondering what their lives were like. I can almost still remember the perfectly sweet taste of Grandpa's homemade jam. I still remember those days when Grandma didn't need a cane. I still remember all the best nooks and crannies to hide in for hide and seek. I still remember the backyard, which was really just a small rectangle of a pebbly hill half littered with junk. I still remember the thrill of constantly running down the path that cut across their microscopic front yard, stopping at the stone wall, and jumping off the edge to the sidewalk below. I still remember the endless steps it took to get upstairs. I still remember that big old tree in the sidewalk in front of their house that always gave me shade. I still remember checking for cars before I ran across the street to my godmother's house. I still remember thinking that someone, maybe I, should start a petition to change the road from a two-way street to a one-way street when my mom would have to pull over for the other car driving down the road. I try to remember all the laughs. I try to remember all the games. I try to remember all the gifts. I try to remember all the hugs, but they all scatter to the edges of my mind when my mom and I drive over to my grandparent's new two-family+ home. All the memories slip away the more I walk down the halls of their new home, past all the other doors of the other grandparents. Instead, my mind fills with sorrow and disappointment when I think about how small their new home is compared to that big white and green house on Westmore Road. I wonder if they miss having a separate room for the kitchen and two other bedrooms for relatives to stay in. I wonder if they feel boxed in. I wonder if they miss having a house of their own with space more than enough for all their children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren to sit back and relax in. I wonder if they miss it like I do. Maybe not, because for me, that big white and green house came as a package with strong hugs and never failing grandparents to look up to. It wouldn't really be the same with a limping grandma and a stroke ridden grandpa. I know that it'll never be the same. I know that they'll only get weaker. I know that, but I'll try to cherish the time I have with them. They will always be in my heart those strong, loving grandparents who migrated from Haiti and worked hard to build a life for their family in America.

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