The kitchen was bright and the smell of coffee brought hope to my soul. Grandma was at the stove stirring something steamy and warm. The biddy aunts, Myrtle and Martha, occupied the two chairs that faced the entry into the kitchen – no escaping their observation. The two of them hovered over their mugs; they liked their coffee like they liked themselves – harsh and bitter.
“Well, look what the cat dragged in,” said the harsh one.
“You make a lot of noise coming in in the middle of the night. Not to mention all the clomping around upstairs this morning,” complained the bitter one.
Myrt and Mart were twins, the youngest of a total of six children, all girls. My mother was the child just eighteen months older than the twins. All the children came just eighteen months apart. They were, in birth order: Mary, Mabel, Maxine, Margaret (my mom), Myrtle and Martha.
“My you’re up early,” Grandma said with a smile and a wink. “I made you oatmeal. Keeps you regular.” And she plopped a bowl of thick porridge on the table with the spoon literally sticking straight up. I made a face.
“I eat oatmeal every day and haven’t missed a poop in eighty-six years. My doctor said after my last colonoscopy that I have the colon of a twenty-year old.”
“Mom!” Aunt Myrt chastised. Martha shook her head and pinched the bridge of her beak-like nose.
I poured a mug of coffee and wrapped my cold hands around the mug hoping to transfer the warmth into my body. The oatmeal released the spoon with a loud S-L-U-R-P. Both the oatmeal and coffee required shovels of sugar and gallons of milk to make them consumable.
“After your breakfast, I want you to take the empty boxes in the living room upstairs to your room and empty out the closet and drawers so you can unpack your suitcases. I know you want to find your own place, but you’re here for now so be here,” said Grandma.
“What should I do with all that stuff?” I asked thinking this would be an all day activity even with the head start I got this morning.
“Well, that was your mother’s and Maxine’s room. Most of the old stuff I think was your mother’s, it’s yours now. So do whatever you want with it. I want you to feel like this is your home and not that you have to live out of a suitcase,” Grandma wrapped me in her warm arms. “Besides, you may want to bring a man home some night and you don’t want him to see your room that way.” She kissed me on the top of my head.
The aunts just looked at me with that “we told you so face” and shook their heads in unison. I could see them taking mental notes about Grandma’s mental stability. She could be inappropriate but she wasn’t senile.
Myrtle and Martha followed me into the living room and watched me gather the boxes to take upstairs. “Before you throw anything out, let us look through it.”
To be continued…..