Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Uncles/Aunts (04/17/08)
By Joanney Uthe
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This is not how I pictured sweet sixteen. Where are the dates, the days at the beach, and hanging out at the mall? Instead Grandma and I spent a month this summer sorting everything in my parents’ house, deciding what to sell and what to keep. I hope Aunt Jacquie has room for everything.
Grandma and I bonded through the emotionally draining process of sorting. She shared stories of Dad’s childhood, and about Mom and Dad’s early years together. I think it helped her with her grief. We spent hours crying together.
I found a scrapbook that Mom had put together when I was very young. I don’t remember her scrapbooking, but she had done a beautiful job with my baby pictures. I wonder why she stopped before I was even a year old.
The box of school projects had been meticulously organized by grade. Mom had not only saved my best artwork, but every test with an A. She had also saved every homemade Christmas and birthday card I had made. I miss the encouragement that she gave me in everything that I tried.
The dent we made in the garage mess matched the one in my life as we sorted the sports equipment and I realized I would never again throw the football with Dad. We would never again go waterskiing or snowmobiling together. Who would be my catcher and my coach as I practiced my softball pitching?
The kitchen brought back my favorite memories of Mom. Learning to bake and to cook always included laughter and lifetime lessons. I kept all of her favorite pans, cookbooks, and utensils for when I have my own kitchen.
I have not read my Bible since their death. Instead I switch off between reading Mom’s and reading Dad’s. I see so much of each of them in the notes they wrote in the margins. I miss them most when I read these, but it also reminds me that they are in heaven and I will see them again someday.
That is what makes my heart not as empty as this house. Tomorrow we have the rummage sale of all the things I am not taking to Aunt Jacquie’s. I’m undecided on whether or not that will be harder than sorting everything. Every item reminds me of my fun-loving, caring but now dead parents.
On Monday I leave for my new home, to live with strangers. I tried to convince Grandma to let me live with her, but she says I am Aunt Jacquie’s responsibility. I have nothing against Aunt Jacquie; it’s just that I don’t know my Aunt Jacquie. I know she is mom’s twin sister and that she lives in Montana, Wyoming or some remote state like that. I know she spent fifteen years in jail for vehicular homicide while driving drunk. That’s why she couldn’t come to the funeral or help pack up the house. She can’t leave whatever state she lives in because of her probation, but Mom said she gave her life to Christ while in prison. I guess she’s sober and has a new husband. I’ll meet him this weekend.
My future feels as empty as this house, but I know that I can come back in a few years. The house is paid off and is mine, or will be when I turn 18. Grandma will rent it out while I am at Aunt Jacquie’s. I plan to live here again when I come back for college.
Oops, I missed a file box when I emptied this closet. Adoption papers? Addison Bailey Benefect renamed Addison Bailey Cromwell, birth mother Jacqueline Benefect, father unknown. Adoption completed on my first birthday. Aunt Jacquie is my real mom? I guess this explains why Grandma says she is responsible for me, but ... Mom and Dad were really my aunt and uncle? Aunt Jacquie must have made that scrapbook. But why would she give me away after one year?
Dennis and Debbie Cromwell were my legal parents and for fifteen years, they raised me as their own. They did out of love for Aunt Jacquie and love for me. They were the best parents, uh ... aunt and uncle ever.
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