It was the spring of nineteen ninety-four and in the alcove of my home of two months; I made my way to the front door. A difficult task while carrying the bat bags of Little League, Bobby Sox and T-Ball in one arm while cradling Stretch Armstrong and holding onto a couple of McDonalds bags with the other. The vibration of the pager against my hip made me jump as I tried to grab the keys to open the door. All that I was holding came crashing to the floor and I stood there just staring at the result giggling with my beautiful eight year old daughter as she looked up at me. “Who paged you mommy?” She said with more curiosity about the pager than who was behind the page.
“I haven’t looked yet, but it better be good because it scared the bajeezus out of me!” She giggled a little more then bent down to help me pick things up and at the same time yelled for her brothers to come help as I opened the front door.
With everyone finally settled at the table and lunch in front of them, I dialed the number to call my Mother who had been the page from earlier. “Hello Mother, what’s up?” I said distracted, as I looked up movie times in the local paper. “Grandma died.” She said plainly. I froze. The only thing I could think of at the time was which one? I had actually voted in my head as to which Grandmother it might be. Crazy.
The funeral for my paternal Grandmother was the following Thursday and we were all expected to make arrangements and be at the Big House on Monday. The drive from my home to hers became more familiar and yet just as unrecognizable as I got closer to her town and neighborhood. I realized that I hadn’t been to see her in years nor had I really seen anyone. I felt justified for my reasons while a knot began to form in my stomach and I could feel the migraine begin. I became melancholy of what I had missed and at the same time afraid of what I was about to see again. I felt the need to turn and run as I had always done. I could mourn her on my own, right?
I pulled up in front of the house with mixed emotions and I sat in the car just staring at the house that had been so much of my childhood. My babies were already out of the car running to my Mother and Sister with kisses and hugs and I looked up from the chin lean that had started on the steering wheel after hearing my name. Cousins, aunts and uncles had begun to come out with smiles and arms wide open to welcome me. It was then that all the years of pent up anger began to melt away and I wondered if maybe all this time I had been wrong about my memory of what the childhood had been. Had I stayed away for reasons that didn’t exist? Still not sure.
I began to hear Vincente Fernandez singing in the air that I breathed; I smelled the familiar spices of cumin and burnt chipotle peppers wafting through the air. I smelled the grass as I moved and mothballs as I walked through the front door, then smiled with tears forming in my eyes. That week, preparing to bury my grandmother, we hugged, laughed, danced and reminisced. We remembered family and I was home.