Our grandmother had a knack for discovering the best Chinese Food Restaurants in the most distant locations. For birthdays and holidays, she’d pick up any combination of my brother, me, friends, and cousins and we’d set out to see if we could find the spot again. It was always an adventure and it always started with her signature “whopee!”
Our grandma was pretty cool as far as grandmothers went. She’d always let us pick the radio station and if she didn’t actually enjoy our taste in music, she thoroughly enjoyed our enthusiasm for rockin’ out. When we couldn’t find our jam, she’d lead us in long, never-ending verses of ‘Found a Peanut’ and ‘Hole in the Bucket’. (These were her favorites)
More times than not, at some point in the adventure, the singing would drift to quiet. We’d find ourselves on turning back roads, slowing down, driving by landmarks that were starting to repeat. We’d feel a little nervous and ask, “Gramma, are we lost?”
With surety and joy she’d reply, “No, we’re not lost. We can’t be. There’s a yellow line on the road. Someone’s been here before.” And she’d keep driving.
The quiet would continue as we wound our way and followed yellow lines. And then like a car slipping on ice that finds a bit of traction, we knew she’d found the landmark she was looking for. The car would resume speed and she’d let out another “whoopee!”confirming the adventure was back on.
We never got to a restaurant via the direct route, but we never got lost. We got disoriented and off-course and may have doubled parts of our route, but never lost. We had so many adventures and the journey really was as much fun as the destination. (which says a lot since she also let us put as many sugars in our tea as we wanted and didn’t mind us dropping paper into the pu-pu platter’s sterno flames)
This memory is one of my favorites of her. I’m incredibly lucky because I have so many. When I was little and she didn’t get mad when I wrote my name in crayon on several of the bricks in her fireplace. When I bought my first house and she showed up and scrubbed and cleaned every window and surface in the house with me. And over the most recent 20 years when my family would stay with her in Florida and visit her zoo and her beach– and occasionally she’d sneak them out of the house for an adventure.
She died yesterday. The past couple of years, her dementia really took her over and I haven’t seen her except for one visit. I’m strong in many conditions, but wasn’t enough to be with her when she wasn’t her anymore. I could only catch a glimpse of her when she eating ice cream (she loved sweet treats) or volleying with badminton rackets a foam ball (amazing, the skills that linger).
She wasn’t perfect, in fact she could be quite stubborn and opinionated and some of her family relationships were very damaged. I’m pretty sure I had one of the easiest relationships with her. I don’t know why.
There are so many things about her life, her career, her adventures that I hope to always remember. But I know I will never forget the excitement I felt when we pulled out of the driveway in her Datsun and she let out a “whoopee!” There was an adventure ahead for us. And I know I can never be lost, as long as I see the yellow line.
♥ Ruth Keany Brown ♥