I know you all think I only have three emotions: happy, sarcastic and annoyed.
Currently it's none of the three - so apologies off the top for having an almost 'serious' sounding post. This is your chance to exit now.
I warned you.
For those of you who know me really, really, really well...you know I have one remaining grandparent ~ Grandma Marty. Although to be honest, by the time I finish this post, that may not be accurate. You also know that my relationship with her can be split into two halves. The half where spending time with her was a joyous occasion. And the other half.
I don't remember grandma living anywhere but at the beach - North Myrtle Beach - where she and my grandpa moved when I was still in the single digit age bracket. I know they lived other places...but my memories start there, on Golf View Drive.
I remember driving hours and hours to get there from our house in Pennsylvania (can you say "Towanda"?). My brother, sister and I jammed into one vehicle or another - eventually a sweet maroon mack daddy van with a pull out bed and mini-fridge. Styling.
I remember sitting quietly in the back seat while my dad tried to worm his way out of a ticket. Fail.
I remember the excitement of arrival - even the very first time, when I could not for the life of me figure out where the second floor of their house was. This was the first house I'd ever seen that included all rooms on one story - a concept I couldn't seem to understand. Surely, there was a hidden staircase somewhere.
I remember being allowed to make the trek to the beach - across the streets, onto the golf course paths, along the ponds where we'd speed up to avoid looming alligator attacks. And finally, we'd cross 17 to the beach.
See, when I was a kid, 17 was a spit of a road - safe for young children strapped with rafts and lugging beach chairs to cross parent-free. If you've been to Myrtle Beach lately - you know those days are long gone.
I remember my grandfather cooking out in the backyard while I tried to teach my brother various types of cartwheels. Fail.
I remember falling asleep on their chaise lounge in the backyard - and feeling comfort as the whole chair was lifted back into the shade.
I remember the make-your-own-sundae shop - mecca to anyone short of their teen years. Rows of ice cream and toppings ripe for the building.
It's weird that this is the stuff that is coming back to me tonight - all these parts of the 'happy' half.
It's also weird that I'm not at all inclined to describe the 'after.' Because suddenly those years seem smaller and less important. It's like I had a rock in my hand big enough to hurt when I squeezed - but tossed in a lake, it became just a tiny piece at the bottom.
So while I have a lot of years built up of wishing I had a different relationship with her - I can look back (at this minute anyway) and see a lot of years where it was good.
I have spent a lot of time in the past few days doing some sort of emotion check with myself:
Do I feel relief? A little. More so for my aunt who has been to war helping my grandma work towards her next journey.
Do I feel regretful? Not really. I did the best I emotionally could.
Do I feel sad? Yeah, maybe more than I was expecting to.
Do I still wish things could have been different? Of course - but then I think of how this path has shaped me - and in a lot of ways, I'm content with how it worked out.
So, for now - I'll wait for the tidal wave of the next few days. And I'll pocket this list of happy times to carry with me along the ride.