When I was a girl, we went every summer, at least, to my grandparents' house in Idaho Falls. Idaho Falls was basically heaven, in my book. The house had a basement, which no house I remembered living in had had. It was cool and dark. There was a fruit cellar. There were an assortment of toys that included a jack-in-the-box, a jumping jack, a cash register, and a doll that came in its own trunk with its own clothes, shoes, and a tiny little hairbrush. My grandmother had, on her dressing table, a mirrored tray with perfumes, jewelry, and a bowl full of quarters. She had cookies and ice cream. She had particular ways of doing things, like lining the sink with rubber mats when we did the dishes. The dishwater was scalding hot. She played endless games of cards with us. I was the oldest grandchild, and there were uncountable stories about me that she told as part of the family lore.
Lately, when I've gone to visit her, when she was having a good day, she'd say something sweet about my beautiful hair or what a pretty sweater. Her beauty was pared down to its essence. When she was young, her hair was dark, curled beautifully in the style of the day. She was a dish. I love the bones of her face, her gorgeous Roman nose, her white hair in a flurry on her pillow. The last time I saw her was last Wednesday. She wasn't feeling well. Her eyes were closed--it was late. She was talking anxiously, feverishly. I'm so glad I got to sit with her, stroke her hair, touch her. I sang to her, a little. Then I had to go, I was exhausted; this morning, I woke to a call, telling me she was gone. All day I've been remembering her, thinking back to before these last few years, when she was younger, full-bodied, full of life. Quiet day. I spoke several times with my father, my aunt, my children. Remembering what a great pleasure it was to drive up to the house on First Street, with its poppies, its great pine trees, its roses, and a bower of geraniums; to go in, to tear downstairs with my brother, to revel in the wonderful playhouse she and my grandfather had made for us.