I was in the third grade when my parents split up and we moved from a small town in Texas to a Texas town not quite as small.
My mom, big brother and I moved into a two-bedroom duplex that my grandparent’s owned and where my great-grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Robert See, lived in the adjoining house.
The See’s (unfortunately not the ones of the See’s Candy fortune) were Quaker tenant farmers from Illinois who’d come to live with my grandma and grandpa when they got too old to work the farm.
Robert, my great-grandfather, was in his 90’s. Tall, gangly, always wore a cardigan, work boots and pants slightly too big which were held up by suspenders. Every afternoon he’d get his cane, don a fedora, and slowly take a walk around the block.
My great-grandmother was eleven years his junior although you couldn’t tell it. I loved her even though she wasn’t very warm or grandma-y. She also didn’t seem to be a big fan of my brother or boy cousins (it’s okay, they know) but did have a soft spot for me and my cousin, Celia.
So, at least she was smart.
To be fair, there were always windmill shaped ginger snaps in her cookie jar, which was bright yellow and shaped like a beehive. I realize cookies are a grandma thing, but they were ginger snaps so I do believe the latter may cancel out the former.
She always prepared three meals a day. Breakfast, lunch and then usually breakfast again for supper.
Thornton was my great-grandma’s maiden name. Her great uncle (actually, not sure how many greats before uncle) was Matthew Thornton, the dude who signed the Declaration of Independence. So, I guess in a way that makes up for the lack of a candy empire that I should be running at this very moment. Because it’s my birthright. Even though it isn’t.
Matthew was the last of 56 people to sign this document. Hey, better late than never, right? Which happens to be a motto I have also adopted in my life and is a trait that obviously runs in our family.
She went by Lula but her full name was Lula Lavina, which she hated. (Not certain about the “Lula” but definitely the “Lavina”.) I liked to pretend I’d forgotten and would try to make her say it.
“Grandma, what’s your name again?”
“Oh you know my name.” she’d say sternly with a half-smile.
My mom was an emergency room nurse and also had several side hustles to support us (including working the medevac air ambulance, despite being deathly afraid of flying. Something else that runs in our family) so, I spent a lot of time on their side of the duplex.
They’d sit beside each other on the love seat holding hands, doing crosswords and resting their eyes. I’d sit in a chair across the room with my nose buried in a Harlequin romance novel and dreaming of escape.
The days seemed endless.
After my grandpa See passed our routine didn’t change.
I’ve been thinking a lot about them and that time in my life as I sit and read and the days seem endless.
Maybe it’s silly but that’s okay. It’s what you’re supposed to do when the universe gives you time to reflect and figure your shit out.
Do what you have to do and feel what you need to feel until things return to some semblance of normal.
Until then I will read, rest my eyes, miss my grandparents, and occasionally, I will have breakfast for supper.