Ready to go


Grade 12, Muncy High School

I had just finished getting ready. My hair was straightened with my grown out bangs in a braid. I always braided my hair out of my eyes; it was kind of my signature look.

All I cared about was getting to the mall. American Eagle was having a sale and like always, my mom had waited until the last possible day to get the discount. I needed – absolutely needed – new shorts, even though it only was April, and it wasn’t even warm enough to wear them. My mom agreed to go get shorts as long as we visited my Grammy.

Even from my earliest memories I never wanted to visit my Grammy; she terrified me. I think it might have had something to do with her old fashioned ways, like threatening me with the fly swatter. Or maybe the fear of her big dog Jenga; the huge fluff ball who would come darting toward me the second I walked into the door. Although, she never bit me. Maybe it even was Grammy’s farmhouse, which to me always felt like her witchy hideaway with antique odds and ends and a huge woodstove complete with boiling pots.

Ironically, I would have loved to go to the farm that day instead of where we were going. The kitchen would have been the perfect setting to see Grammy; with the woodstove’s warmth spilling into the room and its surrounding rooms as well as the smell of food escaping from the pots and pans on the cooktop. I would have gladly walked up the “scary stairs” to explore the dusty second floor, a treasure trove of antiques and old pictures of my family. I would have loved the smell of smoke from the woodstove and the strange smell old items tend to have. The constant old black and white movies playing, except when Grammy’s game shows were on. But we weren’t going there.

The car ride was the same as usual; hop on 442 and head through the red light by Weis for the short trek to the edge of town. My mom and I knew Grammy wasn’t doing as well as usual, but I still asked how long we were going to stay and she, as usual, said “As long as I want to stay.”

Instead of turning onto my grandparents’ street and going past the little development to their farm, we kept going. We passed the ramps to get on the highway, although that’s what would take me to my shorts. We almost were at our destination then, only a few hundred more feet to go.

We arrived at the most horrid place known to mankind: the hospital. Nothing good ever comes out of the hospital. All that comes from the hospital is sickness, death, and huge medical bills that no one wants to pay.

I guess some good does come from the hospital, like treatments and life-saving operations, but I was not thinking on the bright side. Actually I never do when I’m stepping into that infested infirmary.

As we walked through the doors to the Skilled Nursing Unit at the Muncy Valley Hospital, all I cared about was getting out of there as soon as possible.

I put on my front, though, and smiled to the elderly men and women rocking away right inside the door. I returned a few “hellos” and continued down the hallway to my Grammy’s room. Weaving our way around medical carts and seemingly abandoned, sleeping elderly in their wheel chairs, trying to ignore the strong stench of urine and sickness, and the yells from some of the mentally disturbed patients, my mom and I finally made it to Grammy.

Inside the room was my aunt Heidi giving my Grammy a drink of water from her sponge. Aunt Heidi and Grammy are really similar looking. My Grammy was thin her whole life, so was my aunt, and they both had their hair cut down to an inch or two in length. Grammy’s hair was gray while my aunt’s was black. You’d barely even be able to tell who the patient was if Grammy wasn’t bedridden.

Grammy was all bundled up in blankets in her bed, propped up on a pillow, but you could still tell she was frail and thin. It almost looked like she was a sick child and my aunt was her mom, curing her cold.

My aunt and mom talked about how she was doing, but I didn’t want to listen, I could tell she wasn’t doing well. I wanted to think that sipping water was a really good sign, that she would be recovering soon and that maybe soon she’d get to leave the hospital. She couldn’t talk but I knew my Grammy appreciated us being there – her eyes lit up and she relaxed a little bit more.

As the visit went on, I relaxed a little more and talked with my mom and aunt Heidi. I never wanted to talk about being in the hospital, so I sparked a conversation about getting shorts. No doubt, I was subconsciously hinting to my mom that I wanted to leave.

By that time, however, my mom was ready to go too. Aunt Heidi always liked to stay for long visits with my Grammy; she loves to take care of others and especially loved to take care of her parents and other family members. I could call her to ask for a toothbrush, and she would drop what she was doing to get that set up for me.

As we left, I hugged my aunt and kissed her cheek like I did every time I see my aunts. I also bent down to plant a little kiss, softly like kissing a sleeping baby, on my Grammy’s cheek and told her I’d be back soon.

Our trip to the mall was really short; my mom wasn’t in the mood to look around so we only went to American Eagle and picked out two pairs of shorts. I got a pair that was red gingham, a print that always reminds me of my farming family, and another that were distressed, darker denim with cuffs at the hem covered in sparkles.

I was ecstatic; no one would have cooler shorts than me this summer. I still have never seen anyone wearing the same red gingham print shorts.

It was pitch black when we got home, and I was exhausted. It’s a joke in my family that I’m really a farmer because I go to bed and get up with the sun. I began to get around for bed instantly. As I did so, I dreamily envisioned myself this summer at the beach, the water to wash my face became the water at the beach. I was well on my way to wonderful dreams of sunshine by the time I was done.

The phone rang.

A few minutes later my mom came through my door with a somber look and she uttered, “Grammy passed away.”

The waves receded, the sand disappeared piece by piece and the beach was gone. All of my thoughts went black. The waves in my mind manifested to tears and a tsunami escaped from my eyes.

Before that day I never thought of what Grammy and I shared. Our personalities were similar, younger Grammy and I looked the same, and her favorite activities from her youth are some of my favorite too. I never knew that she would save money from her paper route to buy the materials for her and her sister to make the latest trends, much like me saving my money from small jobs to buy the latest trends.

I was the last of the grandchildren to see Grammy before she died. It was supposed to happen that way. Grammy was waiting for me to come; she needed me to realize that I was so much like her.

Grammy’s spirit and my spirit are intertwined; she will never leave my side.