It is true when they say that time doesn't stand still. Being a mom of young children, I am reminded of that daily. However, I also remember when I was a child and time seemed to go so slowly. And how things never seemed to change.
As a kid, you have what is familiar to you. For me, every summer we would make the long drive from our home to that of my grandparents' in Erie, Pennsylvania. Frankly, as a kid, I always thought the drive rather boring, and I never had enough reading material in the car. But the drive was familiar. Through Indiana and on into Ohio where every barn is red, or so it seemed. Always stopping at the same McDonald's north of Columbus that was built next to a pond and the duck nesting area was built to look like the restaurant and feeding the ducks there French fries. We would finally cross the border of Ohio into Pennsylvania and the 24 or so miles always were the longest until our exit. When we finally got off the interstate, it seemed to take forever to meander through the roads until we finally arrived.
Every year it was the same, we'd pull in, pile out of the car and Grandad would come to the back door and shout his greetings and come out for hugs. Grandma wouldn't be too far after as she was normally checking on dinner when we pulled in. There was nothing like being greeted by my Grandaddy. He'd scoop us up and give us bear hugs and ask if we were hungry. He'd then inform us that it was Friday night, no matter what night it was, so it was chocolate milk night (growing up my mom made us drink milk every night at supper, and only on Friday nights were we allowed to have chocolate milk. Grandaddy decreed that at his house, every night was Friday night and he would make the best chocolate milk for us) and then we'd get our hugs from Grandma and we'd all troop into the house for what was sure to be a great supper, complete with chocolate milk.
Grandaddy was the coolest Grandad ever. He was full of stories and he made the best wooden toys. He always talked to us as if we were adults, not kids. He never made fun of us as kids, never talked down to us and genuinely cared for his grand-daughters. Next to his recliner he kept an amber colored glass candy dish (the one in the photo at the beginning of this post) that was always full of his favorite treat; jelly beans.
Grandaddy would pretend to not notice when my sister and I would sneak into the living room and eat our favorite colors out of his candy jar. We'd always be careful to not eat the black ones. We hated them, and thankfully they were his favorite ones. If he happened to see us, he'd remind us to leave him the black ones and then went back to whatever it was he was doing and just sort of would forget to tell our mom what we were up to (though, I'm sure she knew).
As a child, you never in your wildest dreams picture your favorite people not being there. You don't think of a future reality when those that we love are no longer with us. I was blessed to have all of my grandparents until I was an adult. On January 13, 2007 my Grandaddy was called home. He had had a heart attack the week before and was doing well. In fact, he was scheduled to be released from the hospital the following day. However, when his nurse came to help him take care of a few things, he stood up and was gone in the blink of an eye. That day was also the day of the worst ice storm in fifty years to hit our area. We were iced in without electricity for nearly a week. There was no way I could make it out for his funeral.
This past week I was blessed to finally be able to return to the home of my grandparents. It was the first time I had been able to go in eleven years. The drive was familiar, nearly achingly so. We pulled into the driveway and stopped and got out of the van (my sister and mom took me and the girls up) and my mom's brother came out the door to give us hugs. Things were horribly wrong, it wasn't my grandaddy. We trooped into the house, and my grandma was sitting in Grandaddy's recliner. She had had it moved to the back sun room after she and Grandaddy replaced the couch and it came with a matching recliner. After dinner, I go into the living room and see the candy jar, it was sitting on the coffee table with miniature candy bars in it. There were no jelly beans. Upon seeing the lack of jelly beans, I had to fight back tears. That, honestly was the worst thing about going back to the greatest place I ever went as a child. It truly said to me, your Grandaddy is no longer here. All the safety and security of my childhood was gone, never to return.
I'll always have the memories of the jelly beans, of Grandaddy, his stories and all the wonderful things he did with us (most probably not classified as safe anymore...). And everytime I eat a jelly bean, I think of him. But now, jelly beans are no longer a treat, they are a reminder that life goes on. People are born, they pass on into eternity, time doesn't stop for anyone and things change. Jelly beans remind me of that now. The memories will always be there, but the person who made them special is not. I will always miss my Grandaddy. And when I have jelly beans, I think of him and the joy he brought to my life.