My Grandma is always saying, in her small slight voice, "I need to get my exercises."
This means that she needs to get out and go for a walk. And she rarely does that if she has to do it alone. I told her, she can walk to the end of the driveway and back just a few times and that will be fine. She can walk one house up, and one house down, and that will be just fine too.
And I don't know what the head nods means.
"Do you want me to come over and walk with you one afternoon?" I asked.
She nodded again and smiled. "Yes Lisa, that would be real nice."
"Okay," I said.
So I went over one dreary afternoon and we went outside to walk.
Before we left the front porch, she grabbed a huge heavy stick.
"This here is my stick I walk with," she said.
"And it's a big stick," I said.
"This here is for in case the dogs come at us," she added.
And she know how to hold it, too...
We could rest assured that if any dog or any other animal or robber come at us, Grandma had it under control.
That would be one dead dog or person that day. That's just how heavy that stick was.
So we set out for our walk. We walked down the street, which amounted to half a block, then back up. We were going to do this for as long as she could stand it. And this was a slow walk. I usually walk upwards of 3 miles in one hour when I am walking alone. But she walks really slow. So it took us some 10 minutes to walk down the block, and back.
I took a few pictures of the houses on the street. Like most inner city neighborhoods, the neighborhood has gone downhill. Boarded up houses dot the streets. There was a clearing down the street where I would wait for the afternoon train and wave at the conductor and he would blow the horn. It was good to see that, even though it's a bit overgrown now.
And it's always good to see my great-grandmother's house:
Uncle Olin and Otis here up until the age of 5 or so. She lived next door, to the left of my maternal grandparents. She loved to watch her "stories" in the afternoon, and my grandmother would arrive home for her job around 3:30 pm. This excited me, because I could leave and go to her house and watch the afternoon cartoons.
And then there's this house, which is on the other side of my great-grandmother's house.
Why? Because I got stung by a bee one day. I was 6 years old, and I was playing next to a bush and out of nowhere... STUNG. There was some random man walking down the street, and I ran screaming and hollering into his arms. He scooped me up and knocked on the front door. I don't remember much after that.
(But I don't think that is a good idea, running and jumping in strange people's arms).
Anyway, Great-Grandma Minnie took me next door. There were some old ladies sitting up on the steps. The owner of the house, Mrs. Mac, peered at me curiously as my great-grandma explained how I'd been stung on the back of my hand by a bee.
I liked Mrs. Mac. She was really nice to me. Always yelled "Hey Lisa" as I walked (or rode my big wheel or my bike) around the corner to the corner store for my bag of Funyuns and orange Nehi soda. And she was really light-skinned with what was called "that good hair". At one time, I thought that she was white. I asked Great-grandma about it. She said she wasn't, and that was that Massa blood in her. O_o.
(Not sure one should tell this to a small child. I thought about that for days).
Anyway, Mrs. Mac grabbed my hand and grabbed some of the snuff she was chewing on out of her mouth and slapped it on the back of my hand.
I was too shocked to cry. I remember the huge intake of hot summer air, the large gasp.
Nearly 40 years later, I can still see the sticky beige goo on the back of my hand. All the old ladies were staring at me. I knew not to wipe it off.
"Leave that on there for awhile," Mrs. Mac instructed. "It take the sting out."
I don't remember much after that. I must've been shocked the rest of the day. It must've worked, because I was back to playing outside the rest of the summer.
All these years, even now, I dare not go by the bush where I got stung. No way. No sir.
Grandma and I talked of all this while we "got our exercises." It's funny how I can still see and feel the vibrancy of the neighborhood circa 40 years ago, even through the dilapidation. I can still hear my grandparents neighbors greeting me. I can still hear the train coming down the railroad tracks.
I hate that is all lost.
But it truly isn't lost.
It's alive in my heart.
(And I'm glad of that).
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