I instantly started reminiscing about my grandparents in East St Louis, each summer we would visit and it seems like every day was an adventure. Myself, being the oldest girl I remember my first crush, who stayed right next door from my grandparents. We would wake up, my grandmother would make us breakfast, or we would all get in the car. Myself, two brothers, and my sister; with our grandfather and drive to enjoy breakfast buffet at Shoneys Restaurant . Usually after breakfast my grandmother enjoyed going to the mall (seem like all day ) , we would go back to the house and play outside with the other neighborhood kids. My grandmother was a teacher , and in my eyes sometimes very strict. She made sure we visited museums, do math studies at least an hour each day. Granny made sure we understood that television was not something you watch all day, and as an adult now I seldom watch television.
I went back to East St Louis recently , on my own in my rental car. No GPS, No Map. Just me and my memory. .actually I was very proud of myself. The city had changed, although I have been back many times to visit . It seemed very quiet on this trip. Buildings that were there a few years ago, or no longer standing. The house where my first crush once lived is practically torn down, finding out his mother had passed years ago, and he completely lost it and used drugs for his healing. I sat in the car, wondering if he might still be alive out there. I reflected on how life passes by the blink of an eye. My childhood was full of family reunions from Houston to New Orleans and Atlanta. As kids we live in the moment, not really understanding being a youth is the most important time in our lives.
July was always special , each July 4th we would drive almost an hour past St Louis into the county just because my grandfather wanted to purchase tons of fireworks. We would get back home and play with fireworks all day into the evening with the other neighborhood kids. As I got older, I realize the time and energy my grandfather spent with all of us. During my visit recently, I just smiled and stared at my grandfather now eighty- three as he slowly used his walker to enter my grandmothers birthday dinner. I admired him from afar as he sat and listened to others speak on my grandmothers work in the community, and how much of a great friend she was to them .
During my trip I made sure I spent time with him one on one. Expressing my gratitude on the impact he had on my life. I wanted to look him in the eye, and hold his hand so he understood.. he listened and said "Thank you" . We sat on the inside porch and watched basketball and as always he made me laugh with his humor . I went out back where once my grandmother had a swing set for all of us , which is now gone and just a grassy backyard.
The last day of my trip, I cried the whole way to the airport. Silently in tears. Hoping this wouldn't be the last time I saw my grandparents, understanding that they are in their eighties and you have to cherish each moment with the people dear too you .I am blessed to have both grandparents still alive, still standing, still together, and still living each day in a positive light. Take time to cherish memories of the summer, memories of your youth, some might be negative memories that made you a better person today .- either way at one point those memories were full of fireworks. -