June 4, 2020 a childish perspective
My mother's father apparently drove a taxi in Southern Illinois then when he grew tired of it, became a barber. Sadly, I never met him; he died long before I was born. I'm told he was an amiable figure. We had his barber chair in our house during my childhood. I loved playing in it, spinning around until I became dizzy.
My Grandma however, I thought would outlive me. She used to eat raw onions like they were apples. She would literally walk around her old, giant house taking bites out of a raw onion like it was an apple. I hated onions and at this age, I was terrified of her.
I remember sitting in my room around my 10th year on this planet, thinking about where in our yard I could poke a stick furthest into the earth when she walked in. She told me I needed to do some yard work, how at her age she was working the fields of her family's farm. This was the reason she terrified me; it wasn't because of the onions.
I have profoundly fond memories of her. I was with her when she told the doctor that she didn't want the surgery, "I know what that means, I've had a good life. I was a nurse." She damn well could have outlived us all, I think she was just bored of everything.
Her funeral was simple and somber yet somehow joyous. It just felt honest and I think it was proper closure to a life well lived. Afterwards, I convinced my cousins and sisters to drive by her old house, where we'd all so often met up over holidays.
Sadly, Southern Illinois, like many communities, had been decimated by economic contraction and methamphetamines. As we travelled toward this childhood respite, we saw abandoned and boarded-up houses. It seemed such a sad parade to what other-wise was a day of cherish.
As we approached the house, at the end of a dead-end road that had now apparently become a path to somewhere else, we were all shocked by how tiny it actually was. I guess everything is a matter of perspective.