Nobody warns you about the roller coaster of life. There are wonderful highs and the lowest of lows, but what people don’t warn you about are times when every emotion takes you on an upside-down journey filled with various stages of happiness, sadness and contentment. .
My family is going through a big change right now, and quite honestly, I’m not ready for it.
My maternal grandparents – Grandma and Grandpa Fowble – moved from Maryland to North Carolina with my great-grandmother, mom-mom, when I was 7 years old. They have lived within three minutes of my parents’ house for most of my life, and now they are preparing to embark on their own journey back to their home country to live out their remaining days.
My grandparents have been considering moving back to Maryland for a few years now, but even so, I’m not sure I’m ready.
The house they’ve lived in for 15 years holds so many of my childhood memories, many of which relate to mom-mom, who died in 2013 (I was 13 at the time) at 98. My grandparents and mom-mom have always been there to support me in this life; I still feel like mom-mom is there for me today. However, the news of my grandparents’ move caught me off guard.
What will happen to our Christmas Eve pizza tradition after Mass at Grandma and Grandpa? Who’s going to feed the deer hiding in the backyard of this house on Chancery Drive? What am I going to do when I want to drop by their place for a cup of coffee when I visit my parents?
On top of the questions swirling around in my head, I also felt like I was losing mommy-mommy once again – this house was the last place she called herself home. Her bedroom is always filled with her belongings, ranging from her beautiful jewelry to her collection of books and wallets. For me, she became part of this house, and now I’m sad that I can’t go back.
Needless to say, the situation left me conflicted: I understand that Maryland is Grandma and Grandpa’s home, but at the same time, I selfishly want them to stay here. That way I could continue to visit them, talk to Grandpa about Tar Heel sports, and have coffee with Grandma while enjoying a few of her freshly baked treats.
I had the privilege of being able to see them a week ago when I had to drive my dad from Durham to drop off a car at my uncle’s. I sat on their tan leather sofa in their living room, taking in every sight around me. It would be the last time I would set foot in that house on Chancery Drive.
Grandma, Grandpa and I were visiting each other as we normally do, even though we all knew it would be the last in the house we knew and loved.
After about 30 minutes of talking, Grandma waved me over to the kitchen table, where she had a box with a bow on it and a small jewelry box made out of seashells. I recognized the trunk right away – it was one of the last Christmas gifts I gave mom-mom as a kid.
Grandma told me that she had collected some of mommy-mommy’s favorite things to give me to make sure I had a piece of her everywhere I went. The gifts included the shell chest and, inside, one of her favorite necklaces made of colored marbled stones.
Inside the box was a book Mom-Mom read every day —
“Poems of Faith” by Helen Steiner Rice. She kept it at her reading table next to her forest green Lazy Boy recliner, where she spent her mornings reading her Bible and poems while enjoying a cup of coffee.
In the book was a photo of a Facebook post Grandma made on what would have been Mom-Mom’s 107th birthday, which also included her favorite Mom-Mom photo.
Then there was the box, which contained my favorite items: a purple shirt covered in jewel patterns and a photo of me as a toddler, grandma and mom-mom, all sitting together on the couch in my parents’ living room. .
Grandma knew I wanted to have a piece of her and mommy-mommy.
These few things will make more sense than any good I buy or own for a multitude of reasons. But they will also help me close this chapter of my life and guide me through this transition of my grandparents moving to their new, but old, house six hours away.
To my Grandma and Grandpa: Thank you for all the hugs, the laughs, the fun family meals, and most of all, for the love you have given me and my family. I look forward to making the trips to the Ellicott City area to visit you and write this new chapter together.