…. Everyone had until April 1st, (which was one and a half months away) to secure $8,500 in earnest money to qualify for a Landbank dollar home property. It was their way of making sure any home that was released would be owned by someone who had the resources to begin work on the property. My proof of resources along with the properly filled out detailed application due April 1, 2016 sat before me on the coffee house table.
April 1st, the date made me smile. It seemed like God was reassuring me I would receive the home on Primrose by setting the application deadline of April 1st at the one year anniversary of my grandmother’s death.
My father had called me in January of 2015, worn out and frantic from taking care of his mother. She had been in and out of hospice for months. As soon as she was close to death, the in home health care nurse would have her moved to hospice. Once there, her health would improve and she would demand to go home, home being the house my grandfather had built for her.
One of my favorite photo shoots of my son’s childhood was taken by my mother in front of my grandparent’s brick car port. He was two years old, naked, grinning without shame, playfully splashing water from the kiddie pool at my mother behind the camera. My father is holding a garden hose and my grandmother stands with her hands on her hips, presumably looking at my son’s butt, while my grandfather is seated on the metal gliding chair and looking into the lens. Everyone is happy, the house and the 5 acres around it is beautiful. It is a season past, a different time.
Sitting in the coffee shop, I am thinking of the afternoon of April 1st 2015, right before my grandmother died. I remember painting my grandmother’s nails. She had gotten weaker and I was now her care provider and morphine drop administrator. I had been given charge of her last days and closely monitored her health. I understood April 1st would probably be her last day, and committed my time to beautifying her. I shaped up her eyebrows and removed a whisker from her chin before cleaning under her nails.
The window to her room was open, and the radio tuned to the same Gospel station she had listened to since childhood. I could her the bees humming in the blossoms of the cherry tree and watched the petals fall like snow huge snowflakes.
I had left most of my belongings in a rented South Dakota cottage were i had lived for eig http years. When I locked my door on March 1st, there was 2 gallons of fresh goat milk in the refrigerator and frozen bass in the freezer. Looking at the coffee in front of me with processed cream, I smile remembering how it took me a couple of months to get over the milk and fish.
I had only prepared to be gone for a week or two, believing my grandmother to be closer to death than she was. Pulling my sweater around me as, and wiping a tear born from grief, I was glad for the extra time I had with her. I was glad there was no one talking to me in this coffee shop. I needed this time to process the paper work in front of me, the deadline date and the memory of intimacy between being my grandmother and me.
I had gone to the store the morning Grandma died to pick out a new nail polish color that was more flattering and fresher than the others on her dresser.
People wandered in and out her room all day not noticing the slight change in her breathing as it became more shallow. Her pulse visibly fluttered through the vein on the left side of her neck. Speech was no longer an option, and we had created a code for her to communicate with guests through a series of blinks.
Her only niece, who was also my father’s age, came in after I had finished painting the nails on her right hand. “Could you hold her fingers straight until the polish dries?” I asked.
Through a series of blinks Grandma answered her questions, and told her she loved her. I continued painting her nails as their dialogue dwindled, focused on making my grandmother’s last manicure salon perfect.
My cousin interrupted my task and said, “Lynn, she hasn’t breathed in a while.” there was no visible pulse, only a micro tremor no one else would notice.
I called out to my father who stood in the hall by his mother’s bedroom door, “Dad, she is gone, don’t call the undertaker until her nails are dry.” My cousin looked terrified to be holding a dead person’s hand.
I helped the undertakers remove her body from the bed and onto the gurney. I straightened her bent legs by pulling her feet and pressing down her thighs so the body bag they placed her in could be zipped. I sang “May the Circle be Unbroken” on the walk to the hearse and helped lift her into the back before they allowed me to shut the door. I had said my good-byes and would not be going to the funeral.
I walked up the same steps leading to the carport porch where my father and grandparents had been photographed with my toddler son being the happy child he was created to be. All I wanted was to get into my car and drive back in time to the place where I didn’t have to be grown.
It is February 15th, 2016, I am sitting in Kansas City looking at this paper requiring me to prove I have 8,500. I place my empty paper coffee cup and bagel wrapper in the trash and stuff the paperwork in my purse before walking over to the sanctuary to pray.
I sit in the sanctuary surrounded by strangers and cry. Lord, may I live to have my own house, may I live to have my house in order, may I live to see my son marry a good woman, may I live to leave my son a good inheritance, my I live to hold my grandchild or grandchildren, perhaps great grandchildren.
April 1st, 2016, would be a good place for all of this to start.
…. To be continued….