I don’t remember if Grandma had always lived in Nowhereville with us. She did for as long as I can remember, right on the next street over in a spacious, salmon pink house. I loved going to Grandma’s house. It was my favorite place to be.
In my pre-teen years is when things got really bad between my parents. My Dad’s drinking escalated to an all-time high and Kay continued to stay away, more frequently too. Their relationship was at a crossroads. They realized something had to give if they were going to stay together and so their solution was to move in with Grandma.
Grandma was such a wonderful woman. I always loved going to her house. Mostly I went on the weekends and of course for holidays. She was born in 1919 in Oradell, New Jersey. She lived there for most of her life after she married Grandpa but somehow, she ended up in Florida. Grandpa passed away when I was very young, I don’t remember him at all. Honestly, I haven’t heard good things about him. Apparently, not only was he an alcoholic, but he was quite abusive as well. You wouldn’t have been able to tell it if you had known Grandma though.
Having grown up several different decades before, she was an entirely different woman than Kay. She had learned how to make homecooked meals from scratch, she had always made most of her own clothing, she relied on home remedies and prayer more often than modern medicine. Grandma believed that prayer was the solution to every and all ailments. Have a cold? Pray it out of you! Have anxiety? Pray it out of you! Achy joints and muscles? Pray it out of you! Because of her love of God and God’s word, I always felt as though her home was much more peaceful. As soon as you crossed the threshold, there was such an intense sense of calm unlike the thick, depressing air in my own home.
After Grandpa had passed away it had seemed that Grandma was set for life. She was a retired teacher and also received retirement compensation along with the money Grandpa had left her so she really hadn’t had a reason to work. A retired school teacher, she would oftentimes work with me on my reading and writing and she also taught me fun crafts like how to make homemade playdough. That was one of my favorite things to do at her house.
I remember a few times when I stayed the night with Grandma. I don’t remember why I did, but I’m sure it was because of my parent’s horrible fights. The fights never turned physical but the screaming was enough to keep me up into all hours of the night, anxious and tense, wondering what would happen next. I spent so many nights in bed, my hands pressed tightly over my ears, wishing the noise would stop, my anxiety spiking as I heard Kay shattering dishes and glasses in the kitchen. Sometimes my Dad would leave at this point, stay at a friend’s house for the night. I don’t really know where he went.
When I was at Grandma’s house though, I was able to let go of that anxiety that my young mind and heart found unbearable. I wasn’t properly equipped with the knowledge nor the emotional tools to properly cope with the stress. It was terrifying for me. At Grandma’s house, I wasn’t afraid of the monsters under my bed or in my closet or in the dark corners. I wasn’t afraid of the sight of those empty Busch cans that signified an oncoming war. I wasn’t afraid of being swept up by Kay and kept away from my Dad and my home for days on end after one of their fights. At Grandma’s house, I found peace.