We are past the halfway mark in #Writing101, and I have to say I am enjoying it more and more as we progress. This assignment really conjured up some memories – some good – some bad. But that’s okay. It’s my life… and this is my story.
Today’s assignment: #Writing 101, Day Eleven – Size Matters
Today, tell us about the home you lived in when you were twelve. For your twist, pay attention to — and vary — your sentence lengths.
The thing I remember most about being 12 is wanting to be 13. Funny how that was so important at the time. But boy was it!
You see – I started school at an earlier age than most. Having a birthday on December 31st did that back in my day. So when all my friends became teenagers, I thought it was the worst thing in the world being 12. Too bad that wasn’t the only thing I had to worry about at 12.
Home. Where would I call “home” when I was 12 years old? That’s a little trickier for me than some.
Mom had recently remarried, so Mom and new Dad and new baby sister and same brother and I moved into a brand-spanking new two-story house in the country built just for us.
But I didn’t live there long.
It was Grandma’s house that became my home when I was 12. And as I think back, I daresay it might have been my favorite home growing up. Grandma had a way of doing that.
I moved six times and lived in eight different places (counting Grandma’s) during my childhood. I went to five different school districts. Throughout all the moves, I experienced many different sizes and shapes and types of homes and neighborhoods. From older communities on one side of town to an apartment after the divorce and staying at Grandma’s during the week, to the other side of town, to the country, and back to newer suburbs in yet another area. It was never far, but it was a move. It was a change. A big change for my brother and me trying to figure out this thing called life and the idea of family.
So as the rest of my family (Mom, new Dad, new sister and same brother) lived in the big, new house in the woods, I was asked to stay with Grandma.
Grandpap had recently passed away, and it was hard on Grandma. Not only because she loved him, but she needed and relied on him too. Grandma didn’t drive, so she lost her driver. Grandma had never written a check in her life. She had never paid a bill. Although Grandma had more common sense than anyone I have ever known, she lacked in formal education, so Grandpap made up for this. He paid the bills, and he balanced the checkbook. Without him, though, Grandma was lost.
So Mom and new Dad decided to move her closer to them. “It will be easier to help her this way,” they decided.
Grandma was very reluctant. She had lived in the same house for almost her entire married life. Grandpap and her built that house. They had planted every blade of grass, shrub, fruit tree, and berry bush. All her friends were there. But it was a 45-minute drive to get to Grandma’s from our new big house, and Mom thought this would be best.
Grandma moved. She reluctantly packed up all of her belongings and all of her memories and moved into a double-wide trailer in a mobile home park within walking distance through the woods from our new big house in the country.
But Grandma was sad. Not just the regular kind of sad, but that clinically depressed kind of sad. So Mom told me it would help Grandma if I could go stay with her for a while as she adjusted to her new home and new surroundings. “Having you there will make her feel better,” she said. So I did. I was 12.
Grandma loved having me there, and I loved being there. Days turned into weeks, and weeks turned into months. Months turned into years. I eventually moved all of my 12-year old belongings into Grandma’s house. Important stuff like records and clothes. I caught the school bus with the neighborhood kids in the mobile home park. They became my friends and neighbors. I started babysitting, and Grandma was nearby just in case I needed her. My best friend, Janet, was only a short walk through the woods away, and we had sleepovers, and we hung out and played cards and games with Grandma. Life was good.
I learned my most important life lessons living with Grandma. I learned it’s not the size or the fancy new things or the white-glove, immaculate, spotless, dustless possessions that make a house a home. It’s not the bricks and shutters and perfectly manicured lawn. It’s the love. It’s the warmth. It’s the feeling of belonging, the participation in doing the things that make it a home. That’s what Grandma did. She taught me to cook by letting me help. It was okay if we made a mess. We just had to clean it up afterwards. Grandma let me do science experiments and life experiments in her kitchen. Even when it included boiling worms and wearing (real dirt and water) mud masks. Grandma taught me about friendship. She would visit neighbors, take them homemade soup or baked goods from her kitchen, play cards with them on their porches or at their kitchen tables.
Then Mom and new Dad decided this just wasn’t right. I should be living with them. They didn’t know how to tell Grandma this though; and besides – I liked living at Grandma’s. I wanted to stay there. It was my home now.
So to fix things, Mom and new Dad decided we would all move… to another house about 30 minutes away. This way I could move back in with them, and we would be a proper family unit.
So I moved… yet again.
Cheers & Hugs,
25 thoughts on “A Proper Family Unit – #Writing101”
Jodi, another great piece of creative writing, although the emphasis should not be on “creative” . It came through as though you were sitting at your grandma’s table, relating this slice of your life to a friend. It seemed to flow from your thoughts – and from your heart – seamlessly. I sensed an underlying message, one of fragility, of some regret, yet with a nugget of understanding on other levels. You learned more than “family” from your grand-mother – you seem to have learned strength, how one copes with loss, and how to find happiness along the way. Bravo!
What a wonderful story! I even read your post Stella Star Remembering Grandma. I wanted to read more. Of course it reminded me of my own grandma, some good and some not so good experiences growing up. It will all be there, part of the book in progress. Important lessons learned from family life. Look forward to reading your next assignment.
The writing assignments that you have received are wonderful. When the topic hits the spot, the words flow, little editing is needed. The feelings,said and hinted at, permeate the piece. Spending so much time with your grandma developed the Jodi you are. Maybe you would not be the Jodi I know if you had not spent that time with her. Go Grandma!
Thank you, Kathleen – for taking the time to write, for your kind words, and most of all for your love and friendship! xo
Wow, Jodi, a very poignant and touching piece. I can relate to some of this very deeply. My parents never divorced but we moved, a lot. Military life, you know. And I lived a year with my Grandmother in Minnesota during my sophomore year….the happiest year of my childhood. We need to sit down over coffee and apple dumplings…..XXX
I would love that, Barbara. Hopefully some day! I think we are kindred spirit.
OH my! this post makes me melt. i love how you wrote this in the 12 year old girl’s voice, reminded me of my 12 year old teenage self. I could vividly feel the love between you and your grandma.
Thank you. I’m so glad you commented as it led me to your blog!
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Very touching story!! Thank God for your wonderful Grandma! And thank you for sharing some of her with us and the life lessons she taught you!
Thank you for taking the time to read and comment 🙂
My heart strings are tugged by your special memories of a woman we both loved!
She loved you so much too, Joyce!! She is our special bond xo
WOW (nuff said)
You accepted the varying sentence length challenge and ran with it. What you did with your sentence fluency provides a really comfortable reading rhythm for the reader. My favorite sentence is your shortest – “I was 12.” It’s perfectly placed and says so much with so little. I’ve just started reading your blog, but I’m wondering if you have (or ever will) tackle the story of when your parents decided you shouldn’t live with your grandmother anymore. There’s a powerful story there for certain. Thanks for sharing this.
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Thank you so much for your kind comments. Your question is one I ask myself. There is so much more to the story. Just like anyone else I’m sure. Every life has a story. Thank you for your interest in mine.
She sounds like a wonderful person. You have a way with words!
I just read this story and also the story about Pap. I really appreciate your openness.
Odd question- did you ever live in Illinois? You remind me of someone that was a friend of my (late) mother’s.
Thank you geletilari! I appreciate the encouragement and feedback. I have never lived in IL, but I sometimes travel there for work. For some reason, I get that alot that I remind people of someone else. I must have a “common” look or sound or something 🙂 I’ve always lived in PA. You?
No, Jodi was her name. I really don’t remember what she looked like. Have you ever made a mistake and wish you could go back and talk about it , or remedy it? It’s a long story but it’s that kind of situation and I had to take the chance you might be her. Thanks for being nice about it.
I also had the experience of moving about because my dad was navy. I’ve been in Illinois for awhile now though.
I sure have, and I wish I could have been the right “Jodi” for you. Sounds like your heart sure is in the right place. If you get the opportunity to make up for it, do it. If not, don’t beat yourself up. Make the most of each day and do your best from this day on. You will do good some days and fail others, but we are all human. Love yourself and let it go. Hugs.
p.s. I go by Rose Red online. I should figure out how to have Rose show up instead of geletilari, that’s just the address of my blog. Thanks for responding, and for the times you’ve read my blog as well.
Thanks Rose Red. I was wondering, but didn’t want to pry if that is something you kept private. I appreciate your sharing. You can change it on your “gravatar”
On your WordPress Dashboard, go to “Users” then “My profile” and you can update. Hope that is helpful. I’m just learning this by poke and play myself 🙂
Thanks. It’s fun, isn’t it? It’s a very user friendly site, more than others that I never can figure out how they work.
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