I can feel my head starting to clear, as I pull the car over and park. Coming here is like pressing a reset button for my day. Looking at my grandparent’s old house across the street, I let my mind take me back to my childhood.
There was my grandmother, sitting on the steps, waiting for our arrival. Through the screen door, I could see and hear my grandfather, flailing his arms around and griping about something.
I remembered my grandmother’s big smile, when we pulled into the driveway. She’d wipe her hands on her apron and run to us with her arms wide open and ready for hugs.
After the hugging, we walked in to the house, letting the screen door slam behind us. My grandfather would bark, “How many times do I have to tell you … don’t let the screen door slam shut!”
“Oh Grumpy Gus,” my grandmother would say to him. “That’s the sound of visitors.”
“Yes, well, the visitors can close doors quietly, too.” He’d chuckle, while walking into the living room to greet us.
My grandparents died over 10 years ago. Their house sits abandoned, heavily aged due to neglect. Their children, my Mom, two Uncles and an Aunt, are too old to care for it; and the busy life of their grandchildren, my cousins and me, keeps them from breathing life back into the place. No one wants to let go of the property, though. The memories are too strong. Personally, the spirit of this house counsels me through the times when I let my anger get the best of me.
“Anger is exhausting, Thelma.” Grammy would say to me. “Use your power to zap the anger, don’t let the anger zap you.”
My grandmother spent years watching anger zap Grampy. He earned his title ‘Grumpy Gus’ honestly, though his real name was Gerald, not Gus.
When I was really young, I remembered Grampy being a cranky man. I didn’t fear Grampy, but I didn’t go out of my way to spend time with him, either. By the time I was a teenager, my grandfather was a changed man. Any griping or groaning he did was done in jest.
While still young enough to get away with it, I remember asking Grampy what happened. “How come you’re not cranky anymore?” I asked. He laughed out loud and said Grammy told him he had better get over himself or else she was going to leave him. I knew that wasn’t true, but I also knew I wasn’t going to get anything else out of him.
Grammy told me stories about how Grampy would get so overcome with his anger; he’d end up passing out like a man who had spent the day drinking. “Oh, he was never a threat to no one.” Grammy said. “Except the rocks, he sure kicked the heck out of the rocks. In fact, once he kicked a big rock so hard, he broke his toe. Oh Lord, that made him even madder.”
Grammy didn’t recall one specific event that changed Grampy. She said he just passed out after a fit one night and woke the next day determined to never let it happen again.
“Oh, he’d still get upset.” She said. “But, never again did he let the anger get the best of him. He found the strength to zap the anger before it zapped him.”
Unlike my grandfather, I am still a work in progress. My grandmother was always there to encourage me during my fits, and she always told me she knew I’d overpower the anger eventually.
Sometimes, like today, when anger’s energy seems to be getting the best of me, I return here, to their house. I don’t find Grammy sitting on the front steps, and I don’t see her big grin and open arms; but, I feel her energy, and her energy always overpowers my anger.
Suddenly, I notice a glimmer of sunlight shining through the living room window, and I feel a surge of energy come over me. I smile and say to myself, “I hear you Grammy.”
I reach for my cell phone and call my husband, “Honey,” I begin. “It’s time to bring this house back to life.”
Please note: this is a work of fiction.