Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Altered Perception

My grandpa died when I was 10. I had lost family members before and I have lost more since then, mostly due to the all too common problem of old age. But Grandpa Arno's death was a shock. A few weeks before, we had moved to St. Louis, my mom's hometown, and Grandma and Grandpa and Uncle Dave and other relatives helped us get our lemon yellow ranch house into shape. It was a traumatic move, but I loved the idea that we'd be near one of my baby cousins.

Then Grandma and Grandpa went on a trip to Ohio. And one morning, I heard Mom crying on the telephone. "Who died?" I thought in a mildly sarcastic way. (My mom is known for her emotions. I've inherited this trait.) And it turned out I was right. And I cried. A lot. A lot, a lot.

But we moved on as is the way of life. We had the funeral. We talked about how my cousins, the oldest of whom was 1 1/2, would never really remember Grandpa Arno. 5 years later, Grandma met a wonderful man who became part of our family. And now 19 years ago seems like an eternity.

Last week, I visited my great-uncle and great-aunt up in northern Ohio. While one of my dear second cousins is their grandchild, I'd never visited, but time and circumstance made this trip just right. My great-uncle walked me up to the guest room showing me the Children's Hideaway and down the hallway. Suddenly it hit me. This is where my grandpa died. I don't know for sure. I definitely didn't ask though the general topic came up during the evening I spent with them. But I sat in bed, texting Mike, and gently probing my feelings.

When I heard the story of my grandpa's death, I had pictured it in their house in St. Louis. The only setting I really had for them. But there's more. My parents are in the process of moving back to St. Louis, staying with my grandma in a section of the house that didn't exist in 1992. And while I am generally considered an adult, I find this transition distinctly unsettling. My parents aren't in the spot where I expect them to be. And seeing my great-uncle and -aunt's house, I realize things often aren't what I expect them to be.

I don't know what will come out of this, but part of my history has changed.

1 comment:

Kristen said...

I remember that weekend well. I walked into the parsonage kitchen to see my Mom crying, and heard the news that way. Since we had just see Uncle Arno the night before, it was such a sudden surprise! It certainly changed our lives. Like you wrote, altered perceptions. Well written, Bethany.