Thursday, January 05, 2006
As I walked in my grandparents side door, my grandfather was waiting with a hug and a “Don’t kiss me, I’ve got a cold sore.” Grandma was right behind him, waiting her turn. We had been on the road for hours (it felt like days); I could smell the soup on the stove, bubbling until it was time to eat lunch. After lunch – if we didn’t have to go visit someone – and after dinner, my grandmother played cards with us. Shanghai, Canasta, Uno – it didn’t matter. We played cards for hours. And my grandmother played for keeps – she didn’t go easy on us, just cause we were her grandkids. She taught us to play, then she won until we learned how to win. The best times were when my brother would go watch TV with my grandfather, and I’d get to play with her by myself. Even better if we could talk my mom into joining in. But this time, it was all of us. We knew we had to start getting ready to go to dinner, but we kept squeezing in one more hand. Some afternoons we’d take a break, and I’d go to beg Grandpa to play the “There’s a Hippo in my Tub” song again, or maybe the soundtrack to “The Wizard of Oz.” After dinner, we came back to the kitchen table for more. Only now, the fun really got going with snacks, sodas (and highballs for those that were old enough) as everyone sat around talking and laughing. The game would go for as long as the players could stay awake. The older I got, the more I talked to them both. But it was always around that huge kitchen table, eating snacks out of plastic bowls and watching Grandma measure out her bourbon in her shot glass for each drink, while Grandpa and Dad
argued had discussions at the other end.
I never know what triggers dreams like this one. I dream a lot. Most mornings, I remember bits and pieces of dreams (who knows if it’s one long crazy one, or many short ones); some mornings I remember quite a bit.
Every once in a while I have a dream that is so real I still believe it when I wake up. On these mornings, I’m already wide awake when my eyes open (instead of taking an hour to get fully conscious, as is my usual habit). And I remember everything about my dream. Sights, sounds, feelings.
Like the way Grandpa could give you a hug so big, you felt like you were the most important person in the world to him at that moment.
Like the way Grandma laughed every time I beat her at cards, because she knew she had taught me to play for keeps, but to lose gracefully “as a lady should.”
Like the way I’ll never stop missing them.