Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: FAMILY VACATION (07/30/15)
- TITLE: Youth Is Wasted On The Young . . .
By Judith Gayle Smith
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Wee little Gram Hruska joyously welcomed us, all spiffy in a brand new beige dress adorned with ruffles. She looked adorable, and, for once - happy. Dear Gramps shyly offered hugs, not used to us "almost women." We went down to the basement and feasted on Gram's savory Chicken Paprikash.
I was a selfish twit. While Barb clung to Gram, I made new friends and would leave Barb and Gram to each other. I loved Gram but didn't understand the pain and grief she suffered. I wanted to have fun, not hear about how she hated General Eisenhower for causing her to lose her three sons in the war.
I lacked empathy and compassion. Mom had drilled into me that the only reason Gram Hruska loved me was because I looked like her son Sam when we both were babies. I didn't understand, and for years carried memories only of her garden, her paprikash, her sorrow, watching The Lone Ranger, drinking Vernor's Ginger Ale from the bottle . .
I digress. These memories flooding back are from the years we spent in Ohio. My heart aches for the opportunity to truly know Gram, having squandered the only time I had with her as a semi-adult - by being a careless, thoughtless teen.
We lost Gram while preparing to graduate from Anaheim High School in California. We were not invited to her funeral. Dad and Mom told me years later that our aunt and uncle had sent them five-hundred dollars to not contest Gram's will. In the agony of bankruptcy, they exchanged the money for our memories. We received no photographs, nothing but aching hearts.
My sister is extremely sensitive, and I was horribly insensitive. That special time with Gram Hruska was wasted on callow youth. Barb clung to her and I ran from emotions spilling into the Chicken Paprikash. I knew Gram had prepared that wonderful dish just for me - and I feared emotionalism. Gram lost her three sons to WWII, and lost us after our daddy died and Mom remarried Barb's godfather and we moved to San Diego, California.
I wrote a memoir of her, entitled "Paprikash Dreams" - reveling in sweet but sadly forgettable times. We almost lived with Gram, and being young and yes - stupid, took what God had given me in Gram for granted. I couldn't even write letters to her beyond "Hi Gram. How is the weather? It is warm here. I love you."
As for Gram Patterson, who treated us to the vacation of our lifetime - I cannot even recall the week we spent with her. But Gram Patterson moved to California to be with us. Again, I was full of self. Special memories of playing cards with her in her tiny kitchen, while the incredible aromas of her sweet and sour stuffed cabbage rolls prompted drools on the cards . . .
But that is reserved for memories now. Barb and I are all that is left of our family, as far as we know. A terrible aloneness . . .
Gram Hruska - precious little pirate with her garden tan and her gold tooth centered right in the heart of her infrequent smile. How I wish I had been the clinging granddaughter, absorbing all her memories and dreams.
As sis Barb and I prepared for graduation, we learned Gram Hruska had broken her hip and fell in her beloved garden. An observant neighbor crammed Gram into her little car, taking her to the hospital. Gram screamed all the drive. She feared doctors. Convinced that if she went to a hospital she would die. Two weeks after her fall, she died of pneumonia contracted in the hospital.
I recall giggling with her because she had no lap, her full bosom resting there. She told me "Judit - one day you too . . ." I see her every time I look at her reflected image in my mirror - the sad baggy eyes, the no longer cute button nose, the lines deepening smiles to frowns. And yes - no lap for the grandchildren I never had, being sadly barren. I have her forehead furrows, the sense of loss and frivolous youth . . . I miss her so very much.
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