We pulled up to Poppy’s house on the Fourth of July, fifteen minutes late.
“Regan, Brian,” mom said. We both looked up and met her eyes in the rear view mirror. “Remember that Grandma Kacky and Poppy are divorced. So she’s not going to be here. Poppy is probably sad, so don’t ask him about it. Okay?”
“Okay,” we said. Poppy married Grandma Kacky, his second wife, before I was born. She was nice enough to me, but she was hardly ever around. I wasn’t very sad about her being gone. I hoped Poppy wasn’t too sad either.
Dad barely got the car parked before I threw my door open and jumped out. I ran past everyone in the front yard, saying the occasional hello over my shoulder, and toward the house. Inside, I shouted hello to everyone in the kitchen. A chorus of greetings answered me while I continued on toward the backyard. The door was already ajar, so I slipped quietly out onto the patio.
Poppy stood at the grill with his back to me. I tiptoed up behind him then yelled, “Poppy!” He turned to me, taking a few moments to blink smoke out of his eyes.
“Hell-o Rey! Whatcha doin’?” He asked as he picked me up.
“I’ve got the chips, Pop! Do you have your half?”
He winked at me then called for my uncle, whom he promptly handed the spatula to. Poppy sat me back down and led me into the house.
I looked at his face closely. He didn’t seem sad about Grandma Kacky leaving, but he might be trying to hid it. I squeezed his hand.
He squeezed back, then squatted down next to me. He opened his yellowing refrigerator. After rummaging inside for a few minutes, he found what he was looking for. Poppy held the sour cream and onion dip out to me, inviting me to open it. He watched as I tore off the lid and the plastic cover beneath it.
“Chips and dip!” I said excitedly. Poppy chuckled then grabbed a spoon and stuck it into the container of dip. He scooped out a large spoonful onto a plate and handed it to me. Everyone else slowly filed in and filled their plates. I went to the very back of the line. I didn’t like the pressure of knowing other people were waiting behind me.
A few minutes later, everyone was sitting in the living room. The rest of my family and close friends ate and conversed about the upcoming fireworks. I sat on Poppy’s lap and ate my chips and dip. Although, as the conversation grew louder, I began to pick off bits of my hamburger bun.
Our firework excursion usually started out tame, but it escalated until we were throwing lit fireworks at each other. Of course none of them were powerful enough to hurt you, but they were still loud. What’s more, when a firework goes off, people glance over to see what you’re doing. I didn’t enjoy that kind of attention from so many people at once, even if I was close to most of them.
Poppy noticed the change in my behavior.
“What’s going on, Rey?” he whispered. I didn’t know how to put my nervous feelings into words. I didn’t know how to explain that people casually looking over at me made me feel uncomfortable. Finally I muttered, “I don’t want to do the fireworks with everyone.”
“Why’s that?” he asked. I took a bit longer to answer as I sifted through my vocabulary for the right words.
“I don’t know. It’s like my stomach shrinks and my throat gets tight. Like I’m about to cry, but I’m not really. People are just looking at me and that makes me feel weird. Weird like, in a bad way.”
Poppy nodded his head like he understood. He grabbed our paper plates and asked me to hop off of his lap real quick. He took a moment to toss them into the trash. I thought he was upset with me, until he took my hand and squeezed.
Poppy brought me into the garage, where all of the fireworks were.
“Go ahead and pick out the ones you want,” he said. I didn’t understand why he wanted me to do this. I walked around the boxes and picked out a few, then showed them to Poppy. He regarded my fireworks for a moment, then went through the pile himself.
“How about these? What about this one, Rey? Oh! This is a good one.”
I nodded along, even though I still didn’t understand what he was doing. However, I knew not to ask. Poppy would either explain himself to you when he was ready, or you would have to figure it out on your own. At least that’s what mom says.
When my small arms were full of fireworks, Poppy led me out to the backyard. I set my pile down on his weathered patio table. I looked back up at him expectantly.
He gave me a small smile and said,“Why don’t you light these up for me out here? And when you feel comfortable, you can come out front and watch the rest of us. Okay?”
Now I understood. Poppy reached into one of his pockets and took out a lighter. He showed me how to turn it on, then left me to my own devices.
I giggled to myself as I lit off smoke bombs and then danced in their smoke. I laughed as I threw pop-its on the ground. I could be free and wild and weird without the fear of anyone watching me. When my pile of fireworks was reduced to wrappers, I walked around to the front of the house. The driveway was covered in burn marks and the charred remains of fireworks. Some of my family members sat in lawn chairs and watched from a distance as everyone else ran around.
I was walking towards the lawn chairs when Poppy saw me and called me over. He was bending over an unlit bottle rocket.
“Do you still have your lighter, Rey?” he asked. I did, so I took it out of my pocket to hand to him.
“Why don’t you light it off for me?”
The feeling of nervousness came back and I tried to tell him no. He smiled a little and motioned for me to lean in closer. When I did he whispered, “Come on sweetheart. People will be looking at both of us now, not just you.” After a moment of hesitation he added, “Come on, we’ll do it together.” I took in a breath, then nodded okay. Poppy told me to go ahead and light it. After I did, Poppy tipped the stand over so that the bottle rocket was pointed at my uncle.
It shot off with a whistle and grazed his backside. My uncle yelled, “Whoa!” He looked around to see who had done it. He zeroed in on Poppy and I, then exclaimed, “My own father and little niece just shot me in the butt!” His twin sister yelled across the yard, “You probably deserved it!”
I turned and smiled up at Poppy. “That wasn’t so bad!”
“Want to light off another one?” he asked.
“Yeah!” I spent most of my time either following Poppy around or squirting smoldering remains with a water gun. Eventually, the light dimmed as the sunlight hid behind the trees. We turned the porch lights on and dragged more chairs out of the house. We all sat back as Poppy brought out the first large colorful firework of the night. He bent over to light it, then paused. He went back into the garage and brought out two more.
“Kids! Come help me!”
My cousin and little brother immediately hopped up and ran to his side. Poppy told them to go stand by one of the fireworks, then looked up at me expectantly. I slowly got up out of my lawn chair and walked over to the last firework.
“All right kids,” he said, “light them off one at a time. Regan, you go first.” All eyes were on me. I took in a deep breath through my tight throat, and tried to light off the firework. I flicked back the lever on the lighter like Poppy taught me, but I couldn’t get a flame. I tried a few more times, my panic mounting. Why wouldn’t it light? I was about to run back to the safety of the lawn chairs, when I felt someone nudge my shoulder.
I turned to see Poppy extending another lighter, handle first towards me. I took it and ignited the wick of the firework. I stepped back and a few moments later, it took off in a shriek. It flew through the air and exploded in a starburst of red. I watched in wonder as my brother and cousin’s blue and white fireworks soon joined it. I forgot about all of the people behind me. My throat loosened up and my nervous stomach settled. I reached out to hold Poppy’s hand as the fireworks faded.
I watched Gammy’s smile brighten in the rear view mirror as she pulled into a parking space. She turned around in the driver’s seat to look at the three of us. “How was school last week?” She had asked me that question twice since yesterday, which had been Friday. Had she forgotten my answers already?
“Mine was good. How about yours?” I asked.
“Good! What about the rest of yous?”
“It was fine,” said my brother, Brian.
“It was good Grandma, remember I told you about my science project?” asked my cousin, Jeffrey.
“Oh yeah! I remember.” There was a pause, and I went back to counting the number of popcorn pieces laying around the floor of the car. “So, is everyone ready to have fun?” she asked. We all grinned and said, “Yeah!”
“Okay! Let’s go!”
My brother and I cheered then jumped out of the car. We tried to race each other to the front door, but before we could; Gammy grabbed our hands. We all walked across the road together.
I frowned. She didn’t need to hold my hand. I wasn’t a baby!
Inside, a long line stood between us and the payment counter. I fidgeted and kept glancing through the archway and into the play area. The familiar sound of kids screaming and laughing echoed off the tile floors.
To my right I heard Gammy say “Hello?” I turned to see her on her cell phone. She smiled broadly and said, “Hi honey! I just wanted to let you know that I made it to Kids Place.” She paused for a moment. “Yep! Okay. Oh, can you make sure you put the laundry in the dryer? Thank you. So what were you up to before I called?” Grandpa So Fine, my step-grandfather, was a man of few passions. He was either watching the golf channel, or about to go out and golf with his friends. She continued talking to him until she got to the front of the line. A bored looking woman tapped her purple nails against the counter as Gammy hung up.
“How many people do you have with you?” she asked.
“Three,” said Gammy. The woman raised an eyebrow, regarding the four of us standing there. “Oh! No, sorry. There are four of us.” She turned to Jeffrey and said, “Sorry, I’m not used to having all three of yous. Normally you’re at swim practice.” She cupped Jeffrey’s chin and squeezed lightly. By then, the woman had finished ringing us up. Gammy paid and the three of us took off for the maze of play equipment. We threw off our shoes and jammed them into the little cubbies with everyone else’s.
“Wait wait!” called Gammy. “Give me your shoes! I don’t want anyone to steal them!” Brian had already disappeared around a corner. Jeffrey and I ended up taking his shoes, as well as our own, back out of the cubbies. We ran them over to the table Gammy sat down at.
“Okay, have fun!”
“We will!” We yelled as we raced after Brian.
Brian and Jeffrey stayed in the ball pit for a while. I didn’t like being in there for too long, I always felt trapped. Needing a break from the close (and loud) confines of the play area, I went out to Gammy. As I walked up to her, she put her phone to her ear.
“Hi, Gammy,” I said.
“Huh? Oh, hold on Babydoll. I need to wish my girlfriend a happy birthday.” Whoever she was calling picked up the phone. “Hi! What are you guys up to?”
I sat there for a few minutes, then decided to go down the slide again. When I came back, she was still talking on the phone. I waited in the seat next to her for a few minutes more. Why was she taking so long? It takes me less than fifteen seconds to wish someone a happy birthday. When she hung up, she said, “Sorry, Babydoll. Did you want me to go get you some arcade game tokens?”
“Um, no. I just wanted to say hi.”
“Oh! Well hello then. Do you want me to get you some tokens? For the arcade?” she asked. I shrugged.
“Are you not having fun? Where are the boys?”
“The boys are still playing. I just needed a break.”
“Oh I’m sorry, Babydoll. I don’t know why they left you alone. Why don’t we go get some tokens so you can play in the arcade?”
“Okay.” I didn’t really want any tokens. I just wanted to sit with her for a few minutes.
We got tokens. Gammy pulled out her phone as I was walking away.
“Hi honey! I was just calling to tell you that I’m still at Kid’s Place. I’ll leave here in twenty minutes to take the babies back, then I’ll be home. Okay? Did you have fun golfing with your friends? You beat them all? Even Richard? I know, you are the man. Love you too, bye.”
I spent those last twenty minutes playing skeeball and one of those whack-a-mole games. Gammy eventually called me back and asked me to go get Brian and Jeffrey.
In the car, Gammy smiled and talked about how much fun she had. We said we all had fun too, then lapsed into silence. What else was there to talk about besides that and school? Brian fell asleep and Jeffrey looked out the window. I finally finished counting all of the popcorn pieces. 39.
Gammy sat in a chair and greeted the line of people mourning Grandpa So Fine. I stood behind her, passing her tissues and holding her hand. Gammy gripped me tighter and tighter with each utterance of, “I’m so sorry,” or, “ He was a good man.” Tears ran down her face, and her voice became froggy. Despite this, she never once excused herself or took a break.
After a while, my cousin Jeffrey came to take her other hand. We stood at her side like sentinels for several minutes more. Every once in a while I would glance down the line of mourners, hoping to see someone I recognized. I didn’t.
Even though Grandpa So Fine had been there for all of the twelve years I’d been alive; I didn’t know very much about him. Whenever I came over to Gammy’s house, he was in the living room watching the golf channel. We’d say hello, he’d maybe make a witty joke about old people and golf, then he would turn back to the screen. Gammy said he was different around her- more open. But still, it was hard to imagine him knowing all of these people.
A fresh round of tears sprung from Gammy’s eyes. As a young couple moved away from Gammy, I bent down and asked her if she was thirsty. She nodded yes as she greeted the next mourner. I reached for the cooler full of water bottles on the table behind me. As I turned back, I spotted two familiar figures walking through the lobby towards the line. I gently broke Gammy’s death grip on my hand, then handed her the water.
I walked past the line of finely dressed people in black. I kept my gaze straight ahead, locked on the two figures taking their place at the back of the line. When they saw me, they both smiled sadly and extended their arms. I walked into their embrace and mumbled, “Hi Poppy. Hi Nana.”
“Hello, beautiful girl,” said Nana as she stepped back. Poppy lingered a moment longer before stepping back as well. Nana asked where my brother was. I pointed him out in the crowd, then she left to say hello.
Nana had just recently become Poppy’s third wife. She was nice, she seemed to treat us the same way she treated her biological grandchildren. Although, I had never felt a very strong connection with her. She liked to shop and get her nails done, which were all activities I didn’t enjoy. But Nana seems to make Poppy happy, and that makes me happy. At least I should be happy, shouldn’t I?
“How’s Gammy doing?” Poppy asked.
“Sad, and thirsty. She’s been crying a lot.”
Poppy nodded his head. He knew how much she cried when she was sad. Gammy had been Poppy’s first wife, they were married for twenty three years.
I looked back towards the front of the line. The water bottle was already half empty when Gammy raised it to her lips.
“Thank you so much for coming,” she said afterwards.
“Of course, Carol,” said a voice I didn’t recognize, “he was a good man.”
I was so tired of those words. No, actually I was just tired of one: was. He was a good man.
I turned my attention back to Poppy. He put an arm around my shoulders as I asked how my step- cousins were doing.
“They’re doing good. Dillian is actually in a play right now. We’re going to go see it after we see Gammy,” he said. The weekend before Poppy couldn’t visit us because he went out of state to visit Nana’s family. The weekend before that they were spending time with Nana’s daughter and son- in- law. The weekend before that one we got to see them for lunch, but they had to leave early to babysit Nana’s great granddaughter. I shouldn’t have been bitter. Poppy’s very happy with Nana. I just wished I didn’t have to be penciled into his schedule several weeks in advance.
Nana walked back over to us. By that time we were almost at the front of the line. I excused myself and walked to the corner of the room. This was a moment for the three of them. I didn’t want to stand there and remind them of the link they shared, or the complications that comes with that link. I believed they had found enough stable ground to be able to do that.
Nana and Gammy often sat together at family get togethers. They never went so far as to call each other up to hang out, but they liked to talk. They were able to bond over their love for my brother, cousin, myself, and their similar interest in Macy’s clothing sales. Poppy would sometimes join in on the conversations. So while they weren’t close friends, they were friendly.
When Gammy saw Poppy her face crumpled and she let go of my cousin’s hand. She threw her arms around Poppy and sobbed into his chest. Nana reached over and rubbed her back. Gammy let go of Poppy with one arm and put it around Nana. Gammy sobbed and sobbed as the line of mourners grew longer. Finally, she gave one last hiccup and let them go.
Nana said, “I’m so sorry for your loss, Carol. I didn’t know him, but I can tell from all the people here that he was a good man.” He was. I was so sick of was.
Poppy looked up at the ceiling with watery eyes and said, “I’m so sorry.” They walked away from Gammy as my cousin handed her another tissue.
Sometimes I wonder what Poppy was saying sorry for. Sorry that she lost Grandpa So Fine? Sorry that he was the cause of his and Gammy’s failed marriage? Sorry for not being there for his kids throughout the first years of their adult lives? Yeah, something like that.
Poppy and Nana hugged me goodbye and left to see Dillan’s play. I went back to hold Gammy’s other hand. I stayed by her side through the rest of the funeral. That evening we buried Grandpa So Fine’s ashes.
My left leg bounced quickly as I stared at my computer screen. I wanted to write around four thousand words on my short story that day. My problem was, I couldn’t figure out what to do with the next scene. I worried my lip, tapped out a few sentences, then deleted them again. I leaned back in my chair, feeling discouraged. I was just getting the beginning of an idea when my doorbell rang.
Not two seconds later, I heard my brother yanking open the front door.
“Poppy!” he exclaimed. Dang it! I forgot we were having lunch with him today. It seemed like every day of summer blended into the last, especially since it was getting closer and closer to my sophomore year. I turned off my computer and went downstairs.
“Hi, Poppy. What kind of trouble have you been getting into?” I asked.
“Oh nothing much, beautiful girl. Nana is out with some friends today, and I just got finished painting our bathroom for her.”
His jeans were splattered with paint, some was fresh, some was from previous projects. He favored his right side, which meant his back was acting up again. Probably from doing too much painting at once. His hands shook from old age. He smiled at me with coffee stained teeth.
He looked the same as he did when I was little.
Brian and I grabbed our shoes, then we headed out to lunch. When we got in the car Brian made a comment about how hot the seats were, but beyond that no one said anything. I turned on the radio. Elton John was in the middle of “Benny and the Jets.”
Poppy immediately began nodding his head along to the beat. I didn’t know many of the words to the song, so I just nodded along with him. Internally, though, I was still mapping out the scene from my short story. I got as far as the dialogue before I was stuck again. What do people say to each other in situations like that?
I was still pondering this question when we pulled into the restaurant's parking lot.
Inside, the restaurant was almost empty. The lone waitress walked us over to a booth in the corner. When we sat down, Poppy’s phone dinged. He took it out of his pocket and said, “A text from Nana!” He then slowly texted a response to her with his index finger.
“Ooh are you in trouble?” Brian asked.
“Yeah,” I said, “I bet he left the toilet seat up.”
Poppy looked up from his phone at us. “I don’t ever do that,” he said “In fact, when I’m done I put the lid down too. And when I’m done with that, I put Nana’s big stack of magazines on top of it. When that’s done, I barricade the door because only over my dead body will the seat be left up.”
“You’re the protector of the porcelain throne!” I said, right as the waitress walked up. She gave me a strange look as she asked us what we wanted to drink. Once she left, Poppy finished his text while I went back to thinking about my short story scene. People make jokes or change the subject when they don’t know what to say. But what do they do after that? Awkwardly stand there until someone leaves? Change the subject again?
The waitress came back with our drinks and asked for our orders. Once she left again, Brian said that he was worried about going into eighth grade. “Every year it seems like they just give us more homework to do. I don’t want to spend hours studying and doing homework. And what if I-” Brian was interrupted by a ding from Poppy’s phone. He pulled it out and read the text.
“Go ahead Bubbo, I’m listening.”
Was their conversation really that important? Couldn’t it wait?
“It’s okay. Nevermind,” said Brian. Poppy sent the message then put his phone away.
“No, I’m listening. Nana just wants to know what we’re going to do for dinner. She wants us to go out to eat with her daughter, but I don’t want to eat out twice in one day. So we’re going back and forth. It’s not important. Go ahead.”
Brian shrugged and said, “I’m just scared I’ll fall behind, or that all of my time will be swallowed up by homework.” Poppy looked down at the table and nodded his head.
“If you have troubles with keeping up, talk to your teachers. Other than that, just do your best. There’s really no way around the time thing, unless you want to sacrifice quality. You just have to get through it, Bubbo.” Poppy’s phone chimed again.
“No problem,” he said as he took his phone back out to answer Nana. Shortly thereafter, the food arrived. In between bites, I told them about the story I was working on. As I was explaining what I had so far, I figured out how I was going to end it.
“Huh,” said Poppy after I finished, “well I’d like to read that story when you’re finished writing it. Maybe I can even proof read for you.”
“Yeah! When we get back home, I can print it out and you can make annotations.”
“Sounds good Rey.”
Poppy paid the bill, then we left.
Poppy got another text on our drive home. He didn’t check it until we were walking up to our front porch. Mom was home early, so she flung the door open and yelled, “Hello!” Poppy walked up quickly to hug her, then turned around to leave.
“Hey where are you going? Come sit and talk with us for a minute!” said Mom.
“And I need to print you out my story.”
Poppy yelled over his shoulder, “Nana invited her daughter over for dinner. I need to run to the grocery store and get the house decent before they get there. I promise I’ll read your story next time, Rey.”
The three of us stood on the front porch and watched him drive away.
Gammy stooped over her receipt, trying to read the tiny numbers. She had forgotten her reading glasses again.
“The total is $15.35,” I whispered.
“Thank you, Babydoll,” she whispered back. Louder, she said, “Well thank you both for having dinner with me.”
“No problem Momma,” said my mom as she signed her own receipt.
“How long are you going to be staying at Pop’s tonight?” asked Gammy.
“Until the fireworks run out, so around ten? Eleven?” said Mom.
“What are you going to be doing for fourth of July, Gammy?” I asked.
“Well usually I watch my neighbors light off fireworks. But this year they’re going down to Tennessee to visit with their family. So I guess the puppies and I will just stay in and watch TV.”
I leaned back into the booth and looked at her. Gammy’s wrinkles and bowed stature did nothing to diminish the child-like wonder through which she viewed the world. When I was younger, I saw the majority of this wonder directed towards my Grandpa So Fine. She loved him so much, I hadn’t thought there was any room for me. After he died, I learned that she had always loved me. Now she just had more time to show me, and get to know me. I didn’t want her to spend the night in her basement, watching TV by herself.
“What if I spent the night with you?” I asked. Mom and Gammy looked up at me.
“Well wouldn’t you think that would hurt Pop’s feelings?” asked Gammy.
“No!” said my mom, smiling. “Poppy would understand! Why don’t you girls run home real quick to get Regan’s overnight bag? Dad and Brian can let you in before they leave for Poppy’s.”
“Really? Well okay then! Let’s go, Babydoll.”
The whole ride over to my house, Gammy kept talking about all of the activities we could do together.
“What do you want to do? We can go to the bookstore and get you some books, or we can go rent a movie and watch it with the puppies. I don’t know anywhere we can go to watch a firework show. Do you have any ideas? Do you think you’ll be hungry later?”
I laughed and told her we’d figure it out. When we got to my house, I jumped out and ran inside. I spent a few minutes getting everything together, then I hugged my dad goodbye.
When we got to Gammy’s house, I went up to the bathroom.
When I was done, I tried to wash my hands but the soap bottle was empty. Off to the side I noticed the supplement soap bottle was open. It looked like she’d been too busy to refill the smaller soap bottle. I refilled it and washed my hands, then opened the cabinet door to put the larger bottle back. I couldn’t; there was no more room. A pile of lotion, shampoo, and cleaning bottles filled the space. The drawers were filled with puppy care items and makeup. The linen closet was crammed full of hairspray, perfume, towels, etc. Even the little cabinet hung on the wall was full of medicine bottles and papers.
I sat down on the edge of the tub and looked at it all. I had become familiar with Gammy’s house after spending so much time with her. I knew that her closet, garage, and storage room looked much the same.
“Babydoll, are you okay up there?” yelled Gammy.
“Yeah, could you come here for a second?” I called back. When Gammy saw me staring at her cabinets, she said, “Yeah, they’re a mess. I just haven’t had time to clean them. Plus some of that stuff is Grandpa’s. Whenever I see it, I just get so sad.” Her eyes roamed over everything as a saudade expression overcame her features.
“Well what if I helped you?”
She laughed. “Oh you don’t really want to do that.”
“Sure I do, you know how much I love to organize.”
“Well okay! If you’re sure that’s what you want.” She smiled widely as she sat down next to me. “What do we do first? Where do you want to start?”
I glanced at the drawers full of makeup. Foundation fingerprints blotted every surface, in some cases making it impossible to read the name of the product.
“I think we’re going to need a trash bag and a wet rag.”
We spent several hours going through everything. I’d hold something up and read what the name of the product was, and Gammy would tell me to either pitch it or keep it. If we kept it, Gammy would wipe off all of the foundation and set it aside. I tried to make a joke or say something funny every time I showed her something that belonged to Grandpa So Fine. Especially when it was something like an old pair of his reading glasses- his thumbprint perfectly preserved on the glass.
We broke some things and spilled some things. Once a spider crawled across Gammy’s foot and she was so startled that she dropped a lotion bottle on my head. At one point I tripped over something and landed in the bathtub. I wasn’t hurt, just stunned. Gammy laughed so hard she almost fell in with me.
Gammy eventually found some old pictures up in the wooden cabinet. She showed me one of her father.
“What was he like?” I asked.
“Oh Babydoll, he was as clumsy as the both of us. Whenever he installed a light switch or the handle to a bathtub, he did it backwards. I’d have to turn the water in the bathtub to cold to get hot water.”
She showed me her Grandma, my great- great- grandmother. “She always drove the wrong way down one way streets. She knew what she was doing, she just thought everyone else needed to get out of her way. And they did get out of her way, she never had any accidents. But still! Every time I got in the car with her I’d almost have a heart attack!”
She told me about her childhood, and how she met Poppy. She told me about the night she first met Grandpa So Fine. “I stayed out till three in the morning, dancing with him in a club. That was three hours after I said I’d be home. I just lost track of time. Your mom was so scared when I didn’t come home that she almost called the police. She was so mad when she found out I had forgotten to call!”
As Gammy recalled this, I reached back into her cabinet and pulled out a small plastic skeleton. I knew who that skeleton was, it was Man! Mom bought Man as a halloween decoration when I was little, but I named him Man and carried him around like a doll. At one point, we lost him, and Mom had to find a replacement. I hadn’t seen Man in eleven years.
“What in the world is that?” asked Gammy when she saw it.
“This is Man! I carried him around all the time when I was little.”
“Really? I don’t remember that at all. But I guess I must have seen him at one point, he was up in my cabinet after all.”
I didn’t know what to say to that.
BOOM! A firework went off somewhere close by. I knew Poppy was likely lighting off some in his front yard too. Gammy held Man in her hands, looking at him, wiping the dust off his face with her thumb. Scattered around us were pictures of the people and the places she had grown up with. All of them holding stories and memories she could share with me. I knew that with each recollection, we would grow closer. I was happy with Gammy. And I knew Poppy was happy where he was too.