Journal for Christa, (from March 27, 2009)
Being one of nearly 30 grandchildren, individual time with Grandma didn’t happen often. I was delighted when Grandma and Grandpa moved into town, mainly because I didn’t care for the outside facilities on the farm. “Town” included an uptown about seven blocks away. Uptowns are far better than downtowns because the return walk is downhill. Wandering through the main street of the small Midwestern town was every junior higher’s dream, and I approached uptown with the same enthusiasm as Daisy Buchanan in The Great Gatsby would have taken in Manhattan’s boutiques.
Uptown consisted of a few blocks including a drug store on the corner, a couple of dress shops, and the Ben Franklin 5 & 10. I could wile away an afternoon examining the display tables at the 5 & 10, deciding how to spend 50 cents or a dollar. On one particular summer afternoon, Grandma had business uptown, and I, alone, accompanied her. After Grandma finished her shopping, she took me to the corner drug store where she bought us five cent Cokes at the soda fountain. I don’t recall what we chatted about, except that I did inform her that a bottle of Coke cost a whole dime “up North.” It saddens me now to drive uptown, framed by empty and desolate display windows that once held such fancy to my young eyes.
Last summer my sisters (Lora and Cheryl), Melody, Callie, and I were visiting Mom in southern Illinois, where so many of our cousins still live. As we talked, our memories drifted back to when Grandpa had died, not long after Lora had graduated from high school. Someone had brought Grandma back to the house and no one else was there except Lora. Our grandparents lived on a fixed income that was rather meager. Grandma was distraught and told Lora she didn’t have anything to wear to the viewing or the funeral, and she didn’t have money or a way to buy anything. Lora responded, “Well, Grandma, I’ve got a car, and I’ve got money in my purse. Let’s go uptown.” And so they did, where Lora bought Grandma two new dresses. Lora hadn’t told anyone, and apparently Grandma hadn’t either. I guess it was their secret.
Anyone in the family would have been happy to buy Grandma’s dresses, but Lora was glad that it was she who had the car and money in her purse. Grandmas do special things for us when we’re little, and sometimes when we’re older, we get to do something back.