I saw the neatest thing the other day.
A photographer decided to photograph her parents at the end of every visit she made to their house. Her parents would walk her out to her car. She’d get in and snap a picture from inside her car. I believe the photos spanned 20 years or more, and you may guess they were both entertaining and bittersweet.
Of course, she catches her younger, healthier parents and eventually, the photos end with her mother, now alone, sitting in a recliner in an assisted living facility.
As usual, it gets me thinking about how that applies to my own life, and I started thinking about my grandparents and how they used to come out of their house and “see us off” when we left.
My paternal grandparents had a concrete landing right outside their back door, and they usually stood in that area as they waved goodbye. We would wave as we passed by and wave again as we circled around in their drive.
I can still remember them waving as we passed the ancient oak trees that loomed above their clapboard, yellow house. The house and those trees are no longer there, but I can still see them there as clear as day.
They lived near our town’s little airport and I can see the beacons of light and hear the crocuses to this day.
We were at my maternal grandparents a lot more, as my mother was a stay-at-home mom for most of my younger years. We spent a lot of time on that farm and enjoyed it. As it was at both grandparents houses, there was usually something good to eat, and there were always plenty of places to explore.
It was usually the same order of business when we left their house. My grandmother Wilma would always say “Well, you don’t need to rush off.” She’d say it no matter how long we’d been talking about leaving, and no matter how slowly we walked to our car.
If it was dark, I’d tell my brother there were vampires or something lurking behind a tree, and we’d rush through the dark from the attached garage to the car.
My grandparents would say a few parting words as we started the car and Mom usually rolled down the window, and I always hoped the car would take a minute to start. If the ignition didn’t immediately fire up, either my grandma or grandpa would act as though they were cranking an old Model T car, or they’d say “Let’s drop a nickel in it.”
By the way, if anyone knows the meaning to that, email me.
We’d begin backing out of the driveway and we would wave wildly at my grandparents. Usually, my grandma would make “finger glasses” and look through them as we backed out. Then, grandpa would pull down that enormous green garage door and we’d watch their shadows walking back into the house.
Their shadows would get smaller and smaller, and my brother and I always said “Grandma and Grandpa are going down the stairs.”
I always look back and wonder why we waved so wildly when we left, as we were usually at my grandparents’ house several times a week. I can see now I’m glad we were so exuberant about our goodbyes and our hellos, and I’m pretty sure all their grandchildren brought them joy.
As most of us do, I wish they were all still around to see my kids. They would all be well over 100 by now, but I often think of how they would have reacted and what they would have said about these kids.
And just once, I’d love to see my grandparents waving to us all, then closing that garage door and walking “down the stairs.”
Funny what you remember sometimes.