When I was growing up, my grandparents lived across the street. I always felt so lucky to have them that close. I saw them almost every day when I was very young. They did a lot of babysitting and I spent the entire summer at their house. When I stayed home sick from school, I stayed at Grammie and Pop-pops.
In the summertime, they would sit out in their driveway and watch the world go by. Sometimes we would go over and sit with them, just to visit. They'd wave at us when we pulled out the driveway to run errands or go out for the evening.
We spent every holiday with them. We rotated having holiday meals at our house, their house or my dad's Aunt Pearl and Uncle Lou's house. We always showed up early for these dinners and didn't want to leave when they were over. I loved the company of my family. They were there for every event in my life, big or small. They came to softball games and school events, graduations and award ceremonies.
Perhaps the one thing I remember most was the laughing. Well, the laughing and the feeling of belonging. The feeling that no matter what, it was all okay. I felt safe being myself and loved for who I was. A hug and a kiss was always waiting for me there.
Grammie and Pop-pop had lots of friends. One couple in particular became a part of our family. Sis and Charlie Miller had been friends with my grandparents for many, many years. When I was really young, they lived in Central New Jersey on a Dairy Farm. At some point, they moved to our town, I can't remember when. I just always remember them being around.
I vividly remember them at functions and events after my 7th grade year. They were always there. They came to holidays, birthdays, family get togethers. Again, I just remember the laughing. These two fit right in and I always felt like they really were a part of our family. I remember how sad they were when my Pop-pop died 12 years ago. They had know him forever.
We moved away and it has been many years since I have seen Sis and Charlie. Probably 10 years. But I can see them in my mind as clear as day and I can hear their voices as if they were here right now. They were unable to come to my wedding but sent a nice card and a generous check. Through my parents and my Grammie they kept track of me and I kept track of them.
A few months back my parents told me that both Sis and Charlie were very sick and in a nursing home. Last week Charlie died. I just got the news that Sis just died too. I am incredibly sad about this. Not because they were a huge part of my life now, but because they were a huge part of my life then. Them passing means that part of my life is really gone and not coming back.
I loved growing up. I loved the people in my life - my family and my friends. I miss that time. I miss it tremendously. And while I love my life now, there is something about those years before I left home that I long for.
I am glad that they went together. They had been married for 68 years. They always did everything together and that continues with their deaths. I am sure they are with Pop-pop now, laughing about something or someone. Pain free. Just waiting for the rest of us to get there so we can all be together again.
Its amazing how you may not realize how much someone is woven into your memories. These two sure were woven into mine. For that, I am grateful.