Sunday, December 16, 2007

...grandma's swing...

Almost all of my relatives and immediate family were born in San Antonio, Texas. I am no exception. There is one difference though. While all of my relatives lived in San Antonio, my family moved to Arlington, and that's where I grew up. Every year, or even twice a year, my family would drive to San Antonio as our vacation. My mom would stay at her parent's house, and me and my sisters would stay with my Dad at my Grandpa and Grandma's house. We would visit my mom's family, but because we stayed with my dad's parents, most of my memories are there.

My Grandma's house was very old. My great grandfather built it himself. It was a unique house because of it's age. There was a bathtub that stood on feet, tall ceilings, and even a bathroom that had an old toilet with a chain up high that you had to pull to flush it. My grandparents were German. Sometimes my Grandma would speak to my Grandpa in German, especially if she didn't want us listening. She also gave prayers in German. Grandma raised Dachsunds. Her favorite one's name was Schatze, which is German for sweet heart.

My Grandma had lots of costume jewelry in lots of old, fancy jewelry boxes. My sisters and I would sneak them open and look at her jewelry. If she caught us, she'd say, "Uhhh, Uhhh!" in a deep growly voice, and we would close it up quickly. Oh we wanted to try it all on so bad, but we knew we better not. It was special to Grandma.

We had to be creative or it could get boring at Grandma's house. My grandparents had a detached garage and a big open, square drive way behind their house. Grandpa would go out to his shop and get down an old, red wagon and we would take turns pulling each other around the driveway. Our favorite thing about Grandma's was the swing that hung from the ceiling of her front porch. My sisters and I would sit on that swing and just go back and forth, back and forth for hours. If I close my eyes, I can still feel the warm, humid air and hear the way that the chain creaked every time we swung back and forth. My grand parents had that swing there the whole time they lived there. After Grandpa died, Grandma moved to a townhouse to be closer to my aunt and to be in a safer neighborhood. The swing stayed behind.

A few years later, my grandma moved here, closer to my parents, because her health had started to decline and she needed help on a daily basis. She was not ready to give up her independence so my parents got her an apartment within five minutes of their house. They helped her pay bills, took her to doctor's appointments, and took her dinner every night. They basically did anything she needed because she could no longer drive. One of the highlights of Grandma's week was Sunday dinner at my parents' house. She loved to see my three children. They also loved her dearly. Over the years, Grandma's health got worse, and a few years ago she passed away in a hospice home...right before Christmas. I made some precious memories in the last years of my grandmother's life. As I helped care for her and enjoyed her, I grew to love her in a different way. When Grandma died, my sisters and I got to split up her costume jewelry and jewelry boxes to keep as a special memory of her. It was the first time we got to really see all of her precious things that she had protected all those years. I keep it on my bedside table and it reminds me of her.

As I think about all the things I remember, her dogs, the old wagon, my grandma's jewelry, my mind always returns to that creaky, old swing. I cried on that swing, and I laughed on that swing. I talked to my sisters on that swing, and I sat alone and rocked back and forth...back and forth. Over the years, I grew up. I outgrew the old red wagon, but no matter how I changed during the years we visited my grandparents, young or old, I never outgrew grandma's swing.

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