The Safest Place in the World

When I was ten or maybe twelve years old, my Grandma got me a dog for my birthday.  He was the brightest animal in the local pet store, and a few weeks old, he paraded in front of the window, to make sure he was noticed.  Knowing that such a clever animal would soon be bought, Grandma took him home a few weeks before my birthday.  She called him Storming Norman while he lived with her, but I renamed him Zipper when he became mine.

He was the perfect dog for me at that age.  He was incredibly smart and didn’t like most people, but he was fiercely loyal to those he loved, to a fault.  He understood life was bigger than the house and the yard he played in, and given any chance, he would bolt out the front door, to see the bigger and the wider world.  He couldn’t have been more like me.

When ever he ran away, he always headed in the direction of Grandma’s house, and if you lost track of him, you knew he would show up there.  I understand that too.  Grandma’s house was the safest place in the world.  When I was three years old, our house burnt down, and while it was happening, we hide there because nothing bad could happen to us if we were at her home.  She knew how to make everything right.  She knew that at breakfast time that you had to butter the toast while it was hot so that it melted, and she knew how to cook all the bacon so that it was soft.  Everytime it was time to be happy, when it was Christmas or Easter, and the whole family got together, we would go there when I was little.  As I got older, she taught me that when you love someone, you make fun of them, because you love them.  My sense of humour comes from her, and it’s one of my best qualities.

No matter how much of the bigger, better world was out there, the best place to go was Grandma’s house.  Zipper knew it, because he was just like me, and I knew it better than anyone.

Whenever things got too much, I would go there.  I didn’t need to tell her what was going on, just being there was enough.  It was peace, and it was happiness.  When I got older, and something terrible would come at me late at night, and nothing made sense, I could just drive by, and know it was her house, and everything was better, and I could go on.

Thirteen years ago, Grandma battled lung cancer.  She fought it, and she won, and she went back to her life as it was.  She didn’t stop smoking, or change the way she lived.  She beat the cancer, and she wasn’t concerned about it anymore.

Today, we found out for sure that it’s back.  She hasn’t been well, and it really doesn’t look good for her.  I am terrified that she’s heading into the hospital and she won’t be coming back out.  I’m terrified because I don’t know how to make things better for her.  I don’t know how to make sure she knows how much I love her, and I don’t know how to make her feel safe, or let her know that whatever happens, things are okay.  Things are always okay, because we’re stong, and we’re smart, and we know how to be happy, and she taught us all of that.

I can’t stop thinking about that house.  It’s the perfect, safe place, but it’s always been that because it’s always been hers.  Now she has to leave it, and I don’t know how to capture that feeling, and make sure she can take it with her, whatever happens and where ever she goes.

Published in: on April 25, 2011 at 6:50 pm  Leave a Comment