Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Blue House on Gabriel Avenue

Blogtember Day 11:  Describe a memory you'd love to relive.

I regret that I didn't get to spend very much time with my maternal grandmother before she died. I was thirteen years old when she passed away, but I find solace in the fact that every memory I have of her is vivid and special.

We called her "Mimi." My family tells me that I am responsible for that nickname, which makes sense because it sounds so quintessentially "grandmotherly." Every so often, my mother would drop my brother and I off to spend the day with her in her tiny blue house on Gabriel Avenue in Zion, Illinois. To me, her house was a world of magic. Her front yard was always pristine; each strub pruned to within an inch of its life, but it looked so beautiful. She had a black wrought-iron fence that lined the yard. I imagined living there with her and greeting the imaginary mailman that would hand me our mail from the other side of the fence. I don't know why I imagined this- maybe I saw it in a movie somewhere.

However, it was her backyard that I adored. Mimi used to string several clothing lines along the length of her yard. If we were lucky enough to visit her on laundry day, her backyard looked like someone had taken a pile of paper and thrown it into the air. Each piece of clothing waving in the breeze like the falling sheets of paper. The real magic came from the light post that stood alone in the middle of her yard. It reminded me of the post that Lucy finds in The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. I would weed my way through the clothes drying on the lines until finally the lamp post would emerge. It made me giddy with a sense of adventure, but I also knew that I was safe and not really lost. She would watch me from her tiny back porch and laugh; her laughter would weave its way through the laundry and make me smile.

Mimi had a very special tradition that she held on each of her grand-kid's birthdays. She would call us and play the happy birthday song on the kazoo. It sounded so goofy but I knew exactly who was calling. She was so full of life and always made sure we knew that she loved us.

I couldn't believe it when she got sick. She was the healthiest person I knew! I had a hard time visiting her in he nursing home. I would make up excuses so that I wouldn't have to visit her. Somewhere deep down, I felt like I didn't know the person who was in that nursing home. Surely, that couldn't be Mimi. When she died, it was my first real experience with death. I didn't show as much sorrow as the rest of my family because I felt that Mimi had already been gone a long time. I went home the night of her funeral and as I sat on my bed, staring at the floor, I remembered the tapes that Mimi used to record for us grand-kids. I dug them out of a box in my closet and stuck them in my boombox (this is 2003, ok?). When I heard her soft, playful voice come from the boombox, all of the memories I had tried to forget of her came rushing back. Mimi would give us these tapes on various birthdays growing up. She would walk along the beach and in the Forest Preserve at the Illinois Beach Resort in Zion and tells us what she saw. She'd talk about life, nature, the cosmos, God, and how much she loved us. She'd tell each of us the special traits she saw in us and would tell us why we were special.

The memory I'd like to relive is not of her passing, but rather of her memory itself. She was so beautifully happy and full of life. My grandmother did not have an easy life- she made the choice to keep her head up, find strength in love, and persevere. She is a constant inspiration to me. I miss her and think of her often.


  1. Emilyraphael@gmail.comSeptember 18, 2013 at 8:47 AM

    This is such a magical memory. I love that she left taped messages for you- those are priceless!

  2. It's such a beautiful thing to read . I only experienced the death of my grand dad but I was just a kid !
    Noor @ Noor's Place


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