I had my eyes fixed out the window as we turned down unfamiliar streets. “Almost there!” my dad would announce. My younger sister and brother and I would start to get excited, fidgeting in our seats. I kept looking at each house until I saw the goose. A statue of a goose on Grandma’s porch was what told me I was soon to be in the warm embrace of my grandma and grandpa. My grandparent’s house was my favorite place to be.
My grandma would be ninety years old today if she were still with us. I really miss my grandma. She was the comfort in a storm. We were lucky to have so much time with her. My own children loved her so much. My granddaughter loved her so much. She was truly beloved.
When our son, Andrew, was little, he differentiated his various grandparents with nicknames. There was grandma policeman, and grandma Arizona, and grandma quack quacks. When he was little, my grandma moved to a house that overlooked a lake where there were many geese. The goose continued to represent my grandma.
I ran across a real estate listing in Alabama for a house that looked just like Grandma’s. The Craftsman home has the cement ledges at the top of the stairs. That is where Grandma’s goose was. I told my daughter, Shyanne, and my granddaughter, Maryjane, that I wanted a house like that one and I was going to put a goose on the porch so the kids would know when they found me! Both of them agreed that I should not put a goose on the porch. “You’re not grandma quack quacks!” Shyanne pointed out. Maryjane agreed and said that I need a statue of a cat on the porch. Grandma meow meow was more suitable! (I have a few cats…nine to be precise.)
When I was growing up, my grandpa’s mama lived next door to them in another Craftsman bungalow in Washington park. She had red geraniums lining her porch. I think I was taller than her by the time I turned eight years old. She had short grey curls and bright blue eyes and always wore a house dress. We would sit for hours, her and I, playing the card game rummy. We’d sip on glasses of iced tea and play. I never thought to ask her about her growing up or anything about herself, really, I was just enjoying the moment with my sweet great-grandma.
Last night, Maryjane spent the night. I love time with her so much. I know how great-grandma must have felt with me there, sipping on my sweet tea and playing cards. Maryjane is getting pretty good at rummy. My little prodigy, I say. I’ve always been pretty good myself! As a kid, I learned to memorize the pile so that I would know what people had in their hands if they took the whole thing. I always had a good feeling about what to hold onto, when to start getting rid of cards, when to take the entire pile! Now, she is hooked on it too, surprising me by putting down aces.
I remember sitting around the large dining room table at my grandma’s house with the whole family and a double deck of cards playing awesome rounds of rummy. Sitting in chairs that swivel, the aromas of coffee and cigarettes, the light filtering through the plants in the bay window, laughter, family, the sound of cards shuffling. “Jokers wild!” Grandpa would announce.
“Should we put the jokers in and make things spicy?” Maryjane asks. I stifled a giggle. She is adorable. Ten years old already.
“Sounds good!” I answer, “Whose turn is it to deal?”
Rummy was my Abuelita’s favorite game. Played all the time with her when she used to visit us from Chicago. Lovely memories for sure!