I admit that I was a little envious of the Pertermeier children, Erin and Shawn. They got to spend a lot of time with my grandma. Just the two of them, when she worked for them at Petermeier’s Funeral Home. Alone time with my grandma was hard to come by – she had so many grandchildren!
I was sick with a bad cold and needed to stay home from school. My mother worked, so I spent the day with grandma at the Funeral Home. It may surprise you, but it was glorious. Despite the location, and my ailments, I was alone with her. She was all mine.
The attention she gave me was as thick as the red velvet curtains that hung in the parlor. We played cards at the kitchen table. I didn’t know the rules to any of them. She said I’d pick it up as we played. I didn’t. And I’d lose every game. But she’d laugh, and I felt like I was winning. I knew I was winning. I walked beside her, step by step as she vacuumed (I know I was sick, but honestly, she didn’t work at it that hard.) We crossed the street to Jerry’s Jack and Jill and got treats. Hand in hand. What’s most surprising to me, as quickly as this day passed, it has stayed with me for decades.
Years later, visiting my home town, I saw the empty space where the funeral home stood. For a moment, my heart stopped. Just a building some would say, but not for me. It was a day where I was everything.
I went home and painted the picture, “What remains may only be in the heart.” Ironically, I guess, I sold that painting almost immediately, and my representation was gone, but just as predicted, the feeling still remained, remains still.
We came home yesterday from traveling. I brought with me a cold. Awake throughout the night, blowing my nose, coughing, it was still there, that feeling. I would be ok. No longer jealous of the Petermeiers, but so grateful! What a gift they gave me. Time alone with my grandmother. An afternoon of red velvet love that I will carry with me forever. The remains of the day.