Writing Outside the Lines – Prompt 47
This morning I walked a different direction and found myself staring at an empty field where a house from my childhood once stood. Missing was the house where my friend’s grandmother lived out her final years.
Looking at the emptiness I realized there are now huge gaps in my memory from that time. The house stood between my friend’s childhood home and her father’s carpentry shop. For the life of me I can’t remember if the house had been there before Fat Grannie moved to town … or was it moved onto property my friend’s family owned which divided their house from the shop. Regardless, she lived in a cute little cottage to be near her family when she became of an age to no longer live on her own in the country.
So many memories, yet so many black holes with missing pieces. Even though I cannot remember the history of her house, I do unfortunately remember that horrible time in November when President Kennedy was killed in Dallas. Unbelievable … our young, handsome, vibrant President gunned down in cold blood in our own state.
During that time, our mothers were working as they did every year packing mistletoe to be shipped nation-wide for holiday sales. Our little rural town was the home of the only place in the US that sold mistletoe – a parasite to local ranchers – yet, a booming business during the Christmas season.
Most mothers in town did not work, but this annual seasonal job was a way for stay-at-home moms to earn their ‘Christmas Money’. As I stood looking where Fat Grannie’s house once stood, the sadness of that horrible November flooded my soul. As an adult, I couldn’t help but wonder if our country would be different had he lived.
With the mothers working and school cancelled for the days of national mourning, my friend, her older sister and I spent those days with Fat Grannie. The name didn’t do her justice. She was a portly woman not fat at all, but that was the name her numerous grand and great-grandchildren called her and by extension so did I. Her given name was Ella, but I never heard anyone call her anything but Fat Grannie.
During those horrible cold gray days following the death of John F. Kennedy we sat glued to the little Black and White TV set watching the events unfold still not believing the tragedy forced upon our nation. I remember crying a lot … for the family, but especially for Caroline and John John. Watching their bravery as the world watched their grief ripped out my ten-year-old heart. I cried because I was afraid for the first time in my life. Since that day in November, I have been afraid in varying degrees until now … and that fear has ramped up to the highest degree ever felt in my life.
Another black hold in my memory were the events of the Cuban Missile Crisis … I knew President Kennedy averted war with the Communists, but the impact was nothing like the horror of his murder. Little did I know or anyone else for that matter, his death was just the beginning of many deaths by a crazed shooter … with the shootings growing more and more violent from that day until now.
However, during that cold gray week of horror, Fat Grannie made sure we were loved and safe in her warm little cottage. We talked very little about what was unfolding before our eyes each day until the funeral. I’m not sure anyone had words to describe what we felt, our fears, and the uncertainty of the future for us personally and the country or even the world as a whole.
Fat Grannie kept us safe in the only way grandmothers have done for centuries … she fed us. She fed us our favorite comfort foods and let us mourn. Today, trying to remember the interior of that safe place, I can see the living room and kitchen as one big room in the middle of the house. To the right of the kitchen was her bedroom filled with natural light streaming through windows on two walls. A left took you to an attached small bathroom. Nothing fancy here, but functional. I don’t remember any rooms but those three. Try as I might there is nothing there … another black hole.
Outside stood a wooden garage, unused, because she didn’t own a car and never learned to drive. This memory tends to make be think the house, garage and small shed were all there originally, so the house must have been there too. I vaguely remember exploring that garage and seeing rusty garden tools hanging on the walls and old tires stacked here and there. The shed was turned into our playhouse at some point. My friend and I decorated it as best we could so we had our own little hideaway. But, when did we do that … before or after the world was turned upside down.
That horrible week (weekend?) though, Fat Grannie’s warm little cottage was our safe haven … a place our moms knew we needed to be as they worked to earn money for Christmas gifts we didn’t need, but they were determined to get for us anyway. So, during that horrible time, we were loved and spoiled by Fat Grannie as they sorted, clipped, trimmed and packed our local parasite so people in other states could hang a little foam bell with a sprig inside, a foam ball covered ready for hanging from a red ribbon in some doorway, or a sprig tied with red ribbon to wear on a coat lapel. They also packed small cellophane bags with random pieces to be used at will by people from New York to LA.
One thing I do know is now we never see packaged fresh mistletoe at Christmas. Another memory hole is when it was no longer packed and sold from our rural Central Texas town. I do remember the time when the owner of Schuster’s of Texas was on the TV program What’s My Line. That time, the panel was stumped and the owner won because no one could guess what he did for a job.
Turning toward home, I am amazed by the memories and memory holes that are triggered by a simple neighborhood walk. With my many choices of directions, I am expecting more memories and even more black holes that will be found along the way.
Copyright © 2016 Annie Original Nonfiction
Always…I wish you peace, joy and happiness, but most of all I wish you Love.
As Ever, Annie