The way she was


I WAS the only one of three grandchildren she smacked for being bad. And now when I look back on past events, I consider those to be the good times with my grandmother. Even though I still see her, she'll never be the same person. About eight years ago she had a stroke, and so many things about her have changed.

My grandmother was never a very happy person, but she always loved her grandchildren. She lived in Baltimore, so we saw her almost every weekend. She and my great-grandmother lived in an old house in Hamilton, and there was always so much to do there. A pet squirrel (named Charlie) that she adopted would come on her back porch and knock on her window to see if dinner was being served. She would always give us something to feed him. If Charlie did not visit, we could play tag or kickball in her back yard while Grandma was preparing our lunch.

In her basement, she had the ugliest black and white tile floor. We played a game that if one of us stepped on a black tile, he would look like "Stanley," a co-worker of my grandmother's who was very strange.

What we really enjoyed was when Grandma would take us out for the day. Mom would take us to Grandma's house, and what plans she would have! What fun for three country kids to ride the city bus to downtown Baltimore. Grandma, who would do anything to please her three grandchildren, would allow us to put the change in the coin box all by ourselves. Putting the change in was a big thrill for an 8-year-old.

Usually we would decide on a movie, and Grandma would buy us all of the candy and soda we wanted. She'd let us select the candy from the glass case in the theater lobby. The theater showed cartoons before the show, and my grandmother and I loved that. If there was any kind of toy or food one of us wanted, such as a matchbox car for my brother or me or a doll for my sister, she would buy it for us.

When Grandma moved to a new house, it meant new exploring and new fun. She had a tire swing on the tree out back that kept us out of her hair for hours at a time. She made us our favorite meals for lunch, even if we all wanted something different.

Then one day something happened that would alter my grandmother's life forever. My mom took us for ice cream, and when it was time to leave, my grandmother couldn't walk. We took her to the hospital, where we learned she had suffered a stroke.

Now, instead of going to my grandmother's house, we visit her in a nursing home. It's hard to go there sometimes and see her as she is, while remembering how she used to be. Many people don't realize she's the same person inside, even though she can't do most of the things she once could. She tries hard to tell us something, but the words just won't come. She is still our grandmother, and we love her.

I'll always remember the way she was.

Ryan Martin, who lives in Millersville, wrote this for his high school English class.

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