I remember the farm where my mom grew up, mostly from stories and pictures. I'm the cut-off for the grandchildren, I've discovered-- Everyone older then me remembers the sack-swing and the hayloft-- everyone younger doesn't. I do remember walking to the bridge on the old gravel road that marked the farm's lines. In NW Iowa on a gravel road in the country you can see the surrounding farms for miles. Here, at my grandparents, you could see into Minnesota. On that old bridge Grandma and I would collect rocks and line them along the rusted railing. ONce we had ten or so, we would each walk down, as quickly as we could, flicking the rocks off, kerplunking our way to bliss.
Once they moved to the house in town, I soon forgot about the lined rocks on the railing as I was distracted by my new infatuation: the basement. Making my way down the steps, sandwiched between two wood paneled walls, I could feel the excitement rising. Under the bright flouresent lights, I would first make my way to the pool table. I ran my fingers along the felt, picturing my grandpa doing the same. His scent lingered in this place-- the smell of toothpicks and authority. I could see him in his thin, button-up shirts, a devilish smile on his face. I grabbed the maroon pool balls, leaving the solids and stripes in their place near the sticks-- both of these were items I knew I was not allowed to touch unless supervised. The maroon balls rattled around on the table, and I was again kerplunking bliss into the silence. Occassionally I would get fiesty and one of the deep red balls would drop onto the tiled floor and the crack, crack , crack of it bouncing away made me freeze in my tracks. I would wince at the sound, praying no one would hear it upstairs. After I was bored with the table, or had pocketed all the balls, I would make my way to the dress-up bin. Pulling out the old dresses, feeling their rough fabrics and letting their smooth places flow over my fingers. After snugging up a dress that was 5 sizes too big and finding the right hat to go with it, I would make my way up stairs... through the kitchen... and into the living room. I would twirl and my audience would ooohh and awww until I was satisfied that I was the prettiest of them all.
Yesterday I was able to visit my grandma in her new dwelling place. She resides their alone now, in her little chair with a quilt over her shoulders. After some conversation I help her by telling her what is in her drawer, and I help her feel where things are located, her vision having long deteriorated. She drops a hard candy on the floor and instead of feeling embarrased for her I drop one too, the familiar kerplunking of long ago. And then we settle down and she asks about my wedding and I begin to explain what my dress looks like. And again I am back in the old living room twirling around... she ooohs and awwws and although she can no longer see what I will look like, I still feel the prettiest of them all.
Although time continues to swirl around us and things continue to grow and change, we can hold onto the things that are most important. We can hold onto those moments that made us who we are.