104 Marigold Lane
In 2006 we said goodbye to my Grandmothers house and now we say a temporary goodbye to my Grandmother herself.
Dozens of times I have made the trip to my Grandma’s house by road and every single time she was standing out in front of 104 Marigold Lane as we pulled into the driveway.
We hug and greet and walk inside her house with the deep orange carpet, the wood-paneled walls and that clear plastic mat that ran her doorway.
I smell the menthol of my grandmothers life.
To my right is the living room that I can only see in part through the wooden posts above a quarter wall.
There’s a white porcelain cat with striking green eyes that sits on the ground and two real cats somewhere hiding away; Ralph and Ely- like light and day to each other.
I’ll go find them as soon as I can.
For now, we gather in that living room darkened by the 70’s with a thickly upholstered floral couch in it that any ‘Home Network’ on Television these days would try to burn.
But would love to see that couch again.
Grandma has her green chair and her recent cross-stitching pattern.
I see the elastic stockings covering her legs and she says “whale” a lot before she gets to the point.
Well you finally are and well you forever will be.
I know that my Grandpa is around. Partially in the model war planes that in formation hover over most corners of the house and partially in the old photos that I feel certain that he sees me through.
I follow that orange carpet out of the living room and across the entrance way and i’m in a hallway with four rooms branching out of it.
The first is the dollhouse room where I spend so much time playing and peeping through the small windows in awe the detail in the details of the wallpaper, the electricity, the toilet plungers.
Inevitably, comes bedtime.
I get ready for bed in the second room of the hallway which is the all-pink bathroom.
Pink tub, pink toilet, pink sink and wallpaper, too.
It is a delicate pink and there were always fresh towels on the white-wicker shelf and baby butts on the walls.
There’s a white stool that I stand on to peek through that square window through which early one December day I saw my first real snow.
Year after year I played with the same bath toys.
The lion, the hippo, the giraffe and that red thing that was either a fish or a bird- I can’t remember.
They propelled themselves in the water at some point but as the youngest of the grandkids, I just get to use my imagination.
The Grandkids bedroom is at the end of the hall across from Grandma’s. We fight over the top-bunk ruthlessly until we get older and start fighting over the single bed because“we’re too old to think bunk beds are cool anymore.”
Noah’s Ark. Everywhere.
(I’ll never quite understand why the story of God destroying 99% of humankind became a go-to children’s story but we had sheets and quilts and pictures to support it.)
Those pink, yellow and white knitted blankets.
The small children’s table acting as a nightstand.
Ralph hiding under the bed.
A closet full of toys like a cow that bows its head and says “moo”, a plastic oil can containing matchbox cars and Chinese Checkers for the older and distinguished grandchildren.
Grandma’s room is always tidy with old jewelry, photo’s and quilts.
The bathroom in her room is all blue with a Mark Twain quote framed on the wall.
I don’t spend much time in her room and neither does she.
I go to the kitchen, passing the wedding photos of my aunts and uncles.
The kitchen has a small desk built into the corner; full of paper, a photograph of Follow the dog and a drawing of First Interstate Bank.
Decorative plates adorn the tops of the cabinets
and dozens of cute magnets, the fridge.
I pass the cereal cabinet and the soda stacked under the wooden island and I have the choice to go to the basement or the backyard.
(Irrefutably the two best parts of Grandma’s house.)
There’s a fake green grass covering the elevated back porch and real green grass that stretches out to the pine trees.
There’s a central tree in the backyard that is old- holding squirrel feeders and occasionally, a cousin.
Often times, there are Ziploc brand baggies drying on the clothes-line.
My parents sit on the vinyl patio furniture and talk with the sun hanging behind them.
Many adventures take place in the backyard but the real, solemn mystery always hides in the basement.
I dare myself to enter the basement alone.
I’m not only scared because the stairs have no railing.
Not only because I have to walk to the middle of the laundry room in the dark before I can turn a light on.
The dusty living room down there makes me nervous, too.
For I’ve never seen it lit except by the two dim lamps that glow a nostalgic glow over Grandpa’s war pins.
When I leave the laundry room and the living room, I face two doors.
The left is my mothers childhood bedroom that used to have a dresser in it with a bottom drawer full of Nick-Nacks.
We are allowed to pick out one.
I see my mothers adolescence among the K-LOVE stickers on the mirror and the ballerina painting on the wall.
There is one room left in the house with a door that is always closed. Beyond it, my Grandfathers workshop hides; collecting dust and preserving his work.
Occasionally, I find one of the cats in the ceiling hovering over the unfinished dollhouse.
Unfinished and untouched that dollhouse stands with tools resting where my Grandfathers hands last laid them for the dust to tuck in and retire.
In the mornings, I wake up at 5am and so does my Grandma.
We watch Television.
She opens the front curtains, revealing the morning light through the bay windows.
She searches for the Disney Channel and says “what?” in her sweet and rickety voice when her ears fail to hear what I say.
She always cuts up cantaloupe for me in the morning and watches the squirrels eat with me while everyone else is asleep.
In 2006, Grandma laid on what we all thought was her deathbed and not being able to talk much she whispered of how she wanted to “go home to Jesus.”
Eight years later she finally has.
I refuse to grieve as one who has no hope because last Wednesday, my Grandmother blinked; closing her eyes to this Earth but opening them to the incredible and beautiful, sweet face of Jesus.