Soon it was time for me to start second grade. The bad news was that Katie and I wouldn’t have any classes together that year.
But then, mom got a phone call from Grammy, saying that granddad (our great grandfather) had suffered from a stroke. That was the very bad news.
“It’s so hard taking care of him by myself, doll babe,” Grammy sighed into the phone. Grand dad was Grammy’s father. When we visited Florida during those early, childhood summers, he would come over to the house sometimes. He was a thrifty man, wearing that same old, curling mustache until the day that he died, but he always either took us out to McDonalds for a hashbrown and orange juice breakfast or brought us a big jar of Mt. Olive whole dill pickles. I had gerenally pleasant memories of him.
“I had made a little room for him in the den,” Grammy continued on the phone, “but it was so inconvenient, having to walk back there every few minutes to check on him, that I’ve just moved him out into a chair in the living room. He sits there all day,” she whispered, “and it’s so hard to communicate with him.” Then we heard a cocker spaniel barking in the background. “Ollie, hush!” Bobby and I could hear Grammy holler across the room. Mom pulled her head away from the phone and winced. We giggled. “Hey mommy?” My mom said loudly into the phone. “Look, It’s hard to hear you right now. Let me get off the phone and talk with Dudley for a minute… I’ll call you back later.”
A sigh. “Okay doll babe, love you, Bobby and Rose… call me.” A click.
Mom disappeared into the room that afternoon and didn’t come out for what seemed like hours. Bobby and I sat at the table in the dining room, tearing sheets out of an Aladdin coloring book and occupying ourselves with them. Bobby used a maximum of three colors and colored slowly and thoughtfully; I tried my best to stay in-between the lines but preffered moving quickly, masterfully rotating the crayon in a constant, circular motion with my left hand. We tried to make our pictures pretty, because soon, if mom approved of them, they’d end up on the fridge.
A holler would draw us away from our work every once in a while. We’d temporarily raise our heads to look towards the bedroom door that was located just down the hallway. Things usually calmed down quickly and we’d end up dropping our heads and resuming our coloring.
Finally, a door opened.
Mom walked out, calm and smiling at us. She passed by the table to take a quick glance at our work. “Ooh, that’s a pretty purple color, Bobby,” she cooed. He smiled proudly. “Very nice, Rose,” she commented, nodded her head enthusiastically towards my artwork. “I’ll be right back,” she smiled at us briefly, grabbing the phone and stepping outside the front door. The door closed and we knew it was a “private” conversation; mom usually talked to Grammy in the livingroom, sitting on the couch with us and putting the phone on speaker so that we could listen, but sometimes, every once in a while, she’d go sit outside on the front steps and talk to Grammy. That was when they were discussing the important stuff. So mom took the conversation outside and didn’t bring anything up afterwards. Everything seemed fine and settled again.
We quickly forgot about the incident and the fact that our grand dad was now a stroke victim, and life continued as usual. I was enjoying the 2nd grade; not quite as much as the 1st grade, but it was still a nice way of occupying my time. Then, one chilly December afternoon, I came home and found mom in an uncharacteristically excellent mood.
There was a Dominoes pizza box on the counter, along with a stack of paper plates, a two-liter of Dr. Pepper and a plastic carton of Publix holiday cookies. It was nearing Christmas. Riah was lying in her cage; its door was open, but she thought of it as being her den and liked hoarding toys inside of it. It looked like mom had gotten her a new one.
“What’s going on?” I asked eagerly.
“Well I didn’t want to tell you guys a few weeks ago because I didn’t know if it would actually work out,” she began explaining with her hands folded in front of her, looking from me to Bobby, who had a string of cheese hanging out from his mouth.
“Caann I havve more docterrr peppppper, momm?” He asked in a high-pitched voice.
“Sure sweetie,” she answered softly,” pouring some soda into his paper cup and looking towards the bedroom door cautiously where dad must have been, either watching a movie or playing internet chess. Dad complained about how much soda Bobby drank; mom tended to indulge Bobby.
“Okay, so what’s going on?” I asked again.
“Oh right,” mom looked back over at me suddenly and blinked. “I’ve already told Bob. Well Rosebud, your dad has officially been transferred to a Publix in Port Richey, Florida. He’s going to be the bakery manager there,” her eyes got big and wide, “so that means that we’re moving, and where we are going to be living is just a little under an hour away from where Grampy and Gramcracker are!”
She smiled brightly and started laughing while I dropped my backpack to the floor and stared at Bobby, wide-eyed. He smiled back at me and started laughing, screeching, giggling.
I jumped up and down and started crying I was so happy.
We were going home.