This post is part of #Writing101, a course offered by Blogging U. The assignment: to write the first of several pieces about loss. You can read another piece about Grandma Jeanne, or this piece about bike riding.
With my two feet level on the pedals, knees straight and butt off the seat, I could cruise for a solid minute. The whizzing of tires on the concrete road, the wavering white line on the shoulder, the whipping hair on my face are the soundtrack of summer evenings and happy. It wasn’t far to Grandma Jeanne’s house – around a mile – but that was a mile all to myself. Every pore in my body tingled with freedom, giddy with choice as I decided for the longer route of Weber Road. Crossing over Highway 55, with the hum of cars and trucks below fading into the distance, I pumped furiously. The faster the red ten speed, the louder the rushing wind and the more glorious the ride.
Flying down the length of her street with no hands required a slow down on the approach to 4120 Poepping; I managed to wobble only slightly as I bumped up onto the asphalt drive. With pavement still wet from my grandpa’s daily washing and the bright green garden hose loosely curled on the side of the house, I dismounted and walked up to the open doored garage. Very carefully I nudged down the kickstand. Breathing deeply, apple blossoms and citronella filling my lungs, I sighed: grandma’s house.
I knocked gently on the metal edge of the screen door and let myself in. “Hello?”
“Hi sweetie,” came the muffled reply from the kitchen. Grandma Jeanne closed the golden door to her freezer, and smiled. Wiping her hands on a faded brown dish cloth, she then reached out to kiss my cheek. I wrapped my arms around her middle and gave a squeeze. “Let me set up the dishwasher, so once we’re done it’s ready.” With quick practiced movements she rolled the machine close to the sink, pulled out the thick black hose and began attaching it to the faucet. Watching her absently, I sidled to the fridge and pulled it open. “Grandma…I’m pretty thirsty after that ride. Is it ok if I have a soda?” I looked up with what I was sure was a charming and innocent smile. She smiled back and with a wink, nodded.
With the cold red can in hand, I pulled hard. Grinning at the satisfying pop and fizz, I squeezed past Grandma and the mobile dishwasher back into the living room. Sinking happily into the light brown sofa, I waited. Grandma turned on the television with a click, and after finding the right channel, she walked over to the couch and sat. The gentle music began: What would you do if I sang out tune? Would you stand up and walk out on me? Lend me your ears and I’ll sing you a song,I will try not to sing out of key, yeah…
I blinked and looked around as the credits began to roll. Getting lost in an episode with Kevin and Winnie, next to Grandma Jeanne with Grandpa Fred having come in at some point and settled gruffly into his recliner happened nearly every week during the summer. That half hour always passed so quickly. I stretched, rinsed out my can. Glancing out the window, I noticed the waning sunlight. “I better go, Grandma. Mom will start to worry if it gets too dark.”
As I pushed open the screen door, Grandma called out over the gentle whir of the dishwasher, “Give me a ring-dingy when you get home, ok?”
“Sure thing,” I murmured softly, as I let the screen fall shut.