John opened the door, taking us into her foyer. It was filled with old dark wicker with massive heavy dark green patterned cushions. Ellen and I had always admired them too. To the right was the living room. A homey room with an oil space heater. In the winter the younger people couldn't hardly stand to be in there, the heat would knock you out, so my mother and aunt usually sat in the foyer. On one wall was an ugly sofa with a large sofa picture above it. I never cared for the picture and today it hangs over my son's sofa (I had always thought he and his wife had good taste). My son must have felt sentimental about it. It's kind of a woodsy picture with an old shack in it. The coffee table sat in front of the sofa and was always loaded with sit around knick-knack stuff. There was this tea cup and saucer, really ornate. As a child I hated it, but a few years ago as I had started collecting tea cups, my mother took it an gave it to me. I have it on my piano. My grandmother had an old player piano in that room too. We all loved playing that thing. Boy your legs would get a work out! There were so many player rolls. There was this one song I especially liked to play called "Changes". It's funny I had never heard that song anywhere until a couple of years ago we rented a movie, can't remember the name, but it was a recent one set in modern day time. That song was the opening song!
To the left of the foyer was the dining room. I have the china cabinet in my kitchen now. There was so much activity around that table. Always the news from my grandmother and aunt Lily ( she was my grandmother's sister who lived with her) about someone passing away or in the hospital.
As we walked in the kitchen, it was just like I had remembered. You see I hadn't been in the house since my grandmother had gone down to live with my uncle and aunt years before, but it was as I remembered, tiny leaning, the old stove the wood burning kind, the kind you can get now in reproduction. They start around $3000. I have that stove too.
We walked around a little more and as it was starting to get dark, we headed home. No one talked much. My grandmother had been one hundred and four years old. Her death was very expected. But it was more we were leaving. Something you can't recapture, a time a feeling an emotion a part of your life, a place to go, a family. My aunt Carrie whom my grandmother had lived with was still there but my grandmother's youngest son Carrie's husband had died three years before. In a lot of ways the passing of my uncle had changed that part of our family. It had started the death of going to the country.
William was on the phone I heard my son calling me. "Hey, how you doing?" he asked. "Oh hi William, what's going on, everybody okay?" "Yeah just thought I'd see how you were doing".
We started to reminisce. William was so sentimental not emotional. Although I had seen him cry before. He was the pride and joy of my parents. The only son and youngest. Just a few years younger than me. We were probably the closest of the kids. He was the funniest and smallest kid you ever want to see. It's so strange how he turned out to be 6'4" and 200lbs. And as my mother is fond of saying "the handsomest thing you've ever seen". As we were growing up I was quite protective of him. It was really a burden that overwhelmed me and didn't stop until I had my first son.
Whenever I would hear of anything had happening to a little boy I would transfer it to my brother. I continued when my son was born, but the responsibility I felt for my brother took a much needed backseat.
William could always make me laugh. I remember one time when we were teenagers. After dinner, just being silly, he sang and banged on the piano. It's hard to describe, but I've still got it on tape. You can barely hear my brother singing over my constant laughter. It was something about janitor in a drum and whatever it was nuts! I was his best audience. I always thought he should have gone into the entertainment industry. He really does remind me of Tom Hanks. Oh well he didn't, as a matter of fact he's about as far from show business as you can get. He's a very successful insurance broker.
He hadn't been so successful in marriage though. He was on his third marriage. His first two wives left him. Nobody really ever knew why. The first one did leave and immediately moved in with a girlfriend, so we all wondered if that was it. The second, a lovely girl, just up and left one day. I think she suffered from depression. The last anyone heard she was living in New York, unmarried and working for a talent agency. She broke my brother's heart. I used to feel so sorry for him and for some reason whenever I hear the song by Foreigner "I've Been Waiting for a Girl Like You", I always think of my brother and Karen.
His third wife Joanie was so different from the first two, which has proved to be a good thing. She's Italian, funny charismatic and quite the nurturer. She's good for him. They never had any kids together, but they have two grown sons from her first marriage. They were off at college, both in their senior years. Twins, Tim and Tyler. Those boys really had two fathers as their birth father was still very much in their lives and William had been with them since they were very small. Is a matter of fact, it was always amazing to me, how close my brother and Joanie were to her first husband Dave. They are even the Godparents to Dave's daughter with his second wife. Strange if you ask me.
William continued to reminisce about times at Grandma's "hey do you remember me waving the whole way back." I laughed. We had this thing whenever we were leaving no matter what the weather, my grandmother would stand in the driveway and see us off, waving until we were out of sight. As my father would always do a beep on the horn. One time when we left my brother being about 8, I dared him to lean back looking out the back window waving the whole way home. He did it. His reward was to be an hour back rub. He swears he never got it. I can't remember.
William and I finished our conversation and hung up. It was true we were probably the closest of the kids, but that wasn't saying a lot. We would all go sometimes six months maybe longer, without seeing each other or even talking on the phone. It was really a shame, but that was the way it was and no one seemed willing to change it. There were no falling outs sot to speak of just growing apart. Letting our lives get busy, unchanging routines, just not trying to be close, close as we were as children.
I've read books and seen television shows about sisters especially and envied even marveled at how close they were. I saw this piece on T.V. once about these four sisters. One had some king of cancer and they all had rallied around her, seeing her every day. Two of them even moved to be closer to their ailing sister and all going around trying to drum up support for a cure( maybe it wasn't cancer maybe it was M.S.) I thought as I saw these sisters, how lucky they were even the one with the illness. Was it unusual? Were more sisters like mine? Who really knows.