[Previous: Dream Land Part 1: Grandma and Papa’s House]
Part 2 of 3.
After Papa died in 1979, Grandma lived alone in the little house she had shared with her husband for over two decades. She knew that, without Papa, she wasn’t long for this world. So, she figured she’d be passing on soon after.
Grandma continued to feel that way throughout the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s, all the way through this year. She continued her life in the little house, the house that had been her Dream Land since her first grandchild, my older sister, was born.
Grandma had retired a few years earlier, and had spent most of her time taking care of Papa. With him gone, she grew restless, and went back to work. She and several of her friends, some from the church, some from the Eastern Star, some she used to work with at the shirt factory, went to work part-time for the local newspaper.
The local paper, in addition to printing the local news, also printed the small town weeklies for several other places. That meant stuffing the local Sears or K-Mart sale paper and such into the newspapers. And, apparently, old retired women have a knack for that, because they did a lot of that.
Grandma continued to stuff papers, attend church services, shop at the Winn-Dixie, and attend Eastern Star meetings for years, and, at the end of the day, return to her Dream Land.
The grandchildren, me included, didn’t visit as much. We were growing up, or grown, and had started our own families. Some of us lived in the area, and others moved away. But, Grandma’s House was always a special place to us. We all managed to find time to visit on occasion, but not like we should, or, like we wanted to. We could have made a better effort, but we were busy. At least, that’s what we told ourselves.
However, when we did visit, it was almost like being back in that Dream Land we visited as a child. We missed seeing Papa, but Grandma was there. She was always there. Until one day.
Grandma fell while working in the yard in 2010. It was pretty severe. She looked bad, and hurt really bad. After 31 years living alone, it was time for some other arrangements to be made.
My mother finally got a large dining area set up at her house. It was a building separate from the main house, that had a large room where tables and chairs could be set up, with a kitchen just off that room. There was a bathroom, an office, and a bedroom.
Yes, it was actually laid out like a guest house, but her intent was to have big family gatherings there. We called it the Fellowship Hall. (Baptists can truly appreciate that.) In 2010, though, she lost that functionality. It became quarters for Grandma. By living there, my mother could watch out for her. Actually, she paid a lady to sit and watch soap operas and Grandma, while she went to work at her job at the Baptist church.
Four years went by with Grandma staying at the guest house. The little house, Grandma’s House, sat unoccupied. Utilities were still on. Mail was still delivered. The grass was cut. The yards were raked. The only thing making it unoccupied was the fact that no one was staying there.
My uncle (my mothers brother) was tasked with upkeep of the house. Well, the hard stuff, anyway. If it needed any work done, he did it. Air conditioning, wiring, pipes, whatever, it fell to him. And, living an hour and a half away, it was difficult on him. He put up with it for four years, until everyone finally accepted that Grandma wasn’t going back to her house. She was approaching 101 years old, and really wasn’t in any condition to look after herself by herself.
He finally had the difficult conversation that no one wanted to have: it was time to do something about Grandma’s House. He thought the best thing to do was to sell it. And, after much anguish from some, that’s what was finally agreed upon. None of the grandchildren were happy about losing their Dream Land from their childhood.
[Next: Dream Land Part 3: Papa’s House]