Today we are leaving on a weekend trip.
The place we are going is about 45 minutes from where I grew up and where some of my extended family lives. It’s where all of my grandparents are buried and where my parents owned two different houses in two different cities/towns. It’s where my elementary school, and final high school are, although both look a little different now. It’s where I suffered unimaginable pain and trauma, starting at about 4 years old. It’s the last place Little Zander was somewhat free and hadn’t been shamed into hiding.
Sometimes when we’ve driven through this place where I grew up, we stop and see the sights like my schools, my grandparents’ house, my great aunt’s house, my parents’ houses, the best backyard I ever had, gravestones, the grocery store where I threw a fit about animal crackers and got spanked in the car that also happens to have the very best donuts. Ok, well, they did way back then. Maybe they don’t anymore.
The first time we drove through, I had a hard time. So much of it came flooding back all at once and it was way too much. The next time was a little easier. Last Christmas I drove by my babysitter’s old house and saw for myself that it was actually knocked down. It was just an empty lot, with the tree way in back that I once made Chrissy get stuck in because she made me mad. The tree grew into these two huge trunks that split about a foot off the ground and every single one of us was slim enough to slide between the two tree trunks. Chrissy wasn’t. And she got stuck. Everyone tattled that it was my idea and I got a beating for that. I also got a beating when I dug a large shallow hole and Chrissy fell and sprained her ankle so badly that her mom had to come get her and take her to the emergency room. Well, it was supposedly sprained badly, but Chrissy was back on it just fine less than a week later. She was a big cry baby from what I remember and she thought she was smarter than me. Maybe she was more book smart, but she lacked any kind of common sense and savviness. She was socially awkward. I was the oldest and the ruler of the kids. They did what I said, which is why I generally was beaten more for these crazy dangerous ideas.
But I was so relieved to see it knocked down. I had a moment of crisis thinking that the sole witness the earliest and one of the worst traumas I experienced was gone…like it didn’t really happen. Then I got over that crisis and told myself that all was good and although it did happen to me, I didn’t have to live in those moments anymore.
But this weekend is different. No stops in my past world this time. We are just going to where my wife’s family lives now, which is close to where she grew up. Her mom is getting married to her boyfriend that she has been with for 10 years or so. It was so exciting a month ago when she was planning everything and looking forward to a new life, married to one really cool dude. We all love him. He’s so nice and helpful. They seem like a perfect match and they always work it out.
But now the trip has a dual purpose. We have to go see my wife’s grandmother in the hospital after she had a bad fall in her garage on Monday. She’s 94 and she broke the hip in her fall. She had surgery on Wednesday to repair her hip and then she had some unrelated complications yesterday and today. And now everything seems better but still complicated as she was living alone when she fell. Suddenly there’s a lot of worry and fear about the future. And the weekend is no longer just about celebrating the happy couple.
Grandma is a fighter though. She has lots of love and lots of support around her.
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