I’m nine years old in Seminole, Texas, at my grandparents’ house for two weeks in the summer. My sister and I take turns running in the living room and flipping over a broom my Papa is holding onto a pile of pillows doing “gymnastics.” Two weeks of swimming lessons, dominoes, “gymnastics,” perms, Pepsi and games of hide-and-seek. The best part of summer.
I’m 19 years old driving to Seminole, Texas, to visit my grandparents on a Sunday morning and go to church with them. Church, followed by lunch at the steakhouse and listening to my Ganmama freak out at my Papa while he drove us there like a wild man. I will never forget the smell of that Lincoln Town Car.
I’m 21 years old, newly married, and my grandparents have moved to Lubbock. Left the house they lived in for 63 years to be closer to their kids. I’m sitting next to my Ganmama while she sings the alto lead on a hymn at church always slightly behind the congregation and telling Papa to hush when his whisper gets too loud.
Six months later I’m sitting in a pew in the church building singing “Home of the Soul” while we celebrate her life and put her in the ground.
I’m 22 years old and sitting in the pew right next to Papa having adopted the role of hushing him when he’s loud and trying to fit the hearing aid for the church speakers around his ginormous ear. And, as always, when I hush him, he laughs and hushes me back.
I’m 25 years old sitting next to my Papa at the assisted living facility, introducing him to my newborn baby boy. He’s holding him while simultaneously telling me the nurses are stealing his Pepsis.
A few months later, I’m sitting in the pew, singing “A Beautiful Life,” while celebrating him then later cracking open a Pepsi at his graveside service.
I’m 30 years old walking into my parents’ house to pick up my kids. My mom is holding a broom and my kids are jumping over it doing “gymnastics.” I lost it.