I met J’s grandparents last weekend—his mom’s parents, and his dad’s mom. It was lovely to meet them but it was a little sad coming a week after my grandfather died. We were driving between tiny villages outside of Poitiers, and I kept thinking about when I had three living grandparents, when I was little. My mom’s mom died when I was twelve. She (and other family members) lived outside of a tiny town in western Wisconsin and I have lots of memories of summers there. I know we were never there for the entire summer, and I’m not entirely sure how many different visits I remember, since they all sort of meld together. My mom’s sister still lives on the Mississippi, and her home is one of my favorite places to visit (though it’s been a while now, what with living in France).
The countryside and the situations had so many surface similarities—tiny towns, moves into slightly bigger tiny towns, stories about visiting when we were little. It was impossible not to think about trips to Detroit and my grandparents’ old house before they moved into semi-assisted living. How my grandfather would pull out endless tubs of old pennies for me to search through. And my grandmother’s little house on her little stretch of land in Wisconsin, the bathtub with the clawed feet, the squishy toilet seat, her old wood stove, the games she used to pull out for us to play when we were there. The smell.
I think it was a good way to bring back memories now that they’re all gone. But it also sort of brought home the fact that they’re all gone.