This week I’ve decided to try something new. I’m taking part in The Red Dress Club’s weekly writing prompt, Red Writing Hood. The prompt this week is all about writing creative non-fiction and reflecting on some of our most vivid childhood (or more recent) memories. I hope it doesn’t disappoint *too* much.
Grandma and Grandpa used to come in every summer and stay at Fairies Park in their little camper for a month or so. It was definitely old. Everything was that horrible mustard yellow or olive green color that was so popular in the average 80s kitchen. It was ugly as sin, but I loved spending time there. It always felt so free and the park smelled amazing in the mornings – like dew and fresh air. The mornings were crisp, but not cold. I remember the way my grandma used to call her sofa a davenport and that was where I slept. I remember the way she would smoke and drink constantly, but never got drunk. She just happened to drink beer like I drink soda.
On the most beautiful days, grandma and I would sneak away from the campground and we would go walking down by the lake. We always took a bag of bread that was stale and only had a few slices left so that we could feed the ducks. The lake was disgusting and brown, but I loved the smell of it early in the morning. (I always associate everything with a smell…whether there was a smell ornot,by the way.) After we finished feeding the ducks and grandma got me to stop chasing them, we would walk down by the golf course and pick up all of the golf balls that had managed to get outside of the fence. I donâ€™t remember what we did with them, but I have a feeling grandma returned them later in the day because we never had a bunch of golf balls lying around.
Those anonymous mornings spent with my Grandma were downright fun. That was back when kids used to pick on me relentlessly at school and this must have been like a total escape for me. I loved those early morning adventures and miss them terribly. Every time I think of my Grandma, I think of those darn golf balls.
I think this memory means more to me now than it did even then. I absolutely loved picking up golf balls with grandma and just walking around Fairies Park, but it’s different now. Why? Because Grandma had a stroke several years ago and sheâ€™s quite simply not the same person she was when I was a kid. I miss her. I miss how funny she used to be. I miss how sarcastic she used to be. I miss her laugh. I miss her quick wit. I miss how carefree she used to be. She doesnâ€™t have those things now.
Now she is very quiet. She doesnâ€™t laugh. She hardly speaks. She often grumbles and is annoyed. Now, she just sits away from the group looking out of place and bored. She doesnâ€™t like going anywhere or doing anything. I think sheâ€™s tired of being betrayed by her own body. She can no longer enjoy life the way she once did. My grandparents live in Florida (they always have, my memories are of summers when they visited â€œhomeâ€) and I hardly ever get to see them. We used to take trips together to Branson or Tievoli Hills. They went with my mom and me to Busch Gardens and Universal Studios. Now, grandma canâ€™t handle the long drive and refuses to get on a plane. They did manage to come up to Illinois this past summer and I was able to see them on their way back through to Florida when they stopped in Georgia for the night. It wasnâ€™t like it used to be, though. It was awkward. Not entirely unpleasant, just awkward. I was uncomfortable and I’m sure she was, too.
Those times spent with my grandparents are so special to me. I hate that my grandma can no longer enjoy life the way we used to and that my children will never know the amazing lady I knew growing up.
Those are my memories of Grandma.
What are some of your fondest childhood memories? Has anyone you love ever had a stroke and they just weren’t the same person afterward? Leave me a comment and tell me your story.