Sleep has not come easy for me for the past couple of weeks. There’s a lot happening on the home front. We have vacation coming up in a couple of weeks. There will be fifteen of us from around the nation gathered in a six bedroom house over in Bradenton near Anna Marie Island. We’re taking the boat, so there has been lots of prep work involved. A friend from Texas is flying in to our place a few days early and I’m really excited about this get-together. It’s an online group making this Odyssey and none of us have met in person. So this should be fun.
We have a young man staying with us temporarily. He will be house and dog sitting for us. He’s already pressured washed my pool deck, driveway, sidewalks and front patio, pruned all the palm trees, weeded my gardens, hauled off old lumber, washed all the ceiling fans on the lanai and cleaned out my pool twice…all while working a full-time job. He’s volunteered this work without us asking. He’s certainly earning his keep.
This evening we have the grandkids coming over while mama and daddy have date night. They love my chicken with rice and mushrooms and steamed green beans, so that’s what’s on the menu. The little one of the three just started walking. This should be interesting. They’ve all spent the night over together before and we survived. I’m just praying date night doesn’t get too jiggy. Not sure if I could handle four.
I spent nights over with my grandparents. They were my saving grace. Even after foster care I spent weekends there. After moving into The Ethel Harpst Home, we still came “home” on Holidays and summers. My mother’s mother lived in the small town in Georgia near the countryside where I raised my kids, until she fell ill and moved in with my Aunt. We bought her house and renovated it.
The town is divided by a railroad track. Grandma worked as a tailor at a little shop on one side of the tracks and she lived on the other side. She used to joke that she had her hands in the pants of every man in town. It’s amazing how we were trusted to walk from the shop to the house and back as such small children, crossing two busy highways and the tracks. We would get out and walk the tracks picking blackberries for something to do while she was working. We knew to get off the tracks when we felt them rumble, long before we heard the train or saw it. We ran all over town unsupervised, playing with the rabbits and kittens at the feed and seed store, watering the shop owner’s flowers, sliding down ice slides in the old ice house on hot summer days. We carried her deposit envelope to the bank every afternoon, never thinking about getting robbed. I couldn’t imagine giving my grandchildren such free reign in the city today.
At night, lying beside my grandma in her big feather bed, I would toss and turn unable to sleep, my head spinning with the day’s events. She would tell me to listen to the night sounds; the rain on the rooftop, the dogs barking, the mockingbirds, cats fighting and, without fail, the sound of the train passing through town.
My late mother and my grandson share the same birthday, March 26th. He’ll get his presents from us tonight. Last night, I lay restless in bed thinking of her and what she would think of her grandchildren. The faraway whistle of the train was the last thing I heard.