A purple shirt, a book of poems, a necklace chest and a treasure trove full of memories

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Taylor Heeden (middle) sitting with her great-grandmother (left) and her grandmother (right).
Taylor Heeden (middle) sitting with her great-grandmother (left) and her grandmother (right).
Contributed photo
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No one warns you about the roller coaster of life. There are magnificent highs and the lowest of lows, but what people don’t warn you about are moments where every emotion takes you on a topsy-turvy ride filled with various stages of happiness, sadness and contentedness.

My family is currently going through a big change, and quite honestly, I am not ready for it.

My maternal grandparents — Grandma and Grandpa Fowble — moved to North Carolina from Maryland with my great-grandmother, Mom-Mom, when I was 7 years old. They have lived less than three minutes away from my parents’ house for most of my life, and now, they’re getting ready to embark on their own journey back to their home state to live out their remaining days.

My grandparents have discussed moving back to Maryland for a couple of years now, but even so I’m not sure I’m ready.

The house they’ve lived in for the last 15 years holds so many of my childhood memories, many of which involve Mom-Mom, who died in 2013 (I was 13 at the time) at 98 years of age. My grandparents and Mom-Mom have always been there to support me in this life; I still feel like Mom-Mom is there for me today. Still, the news of my grandparents’ move caught me off guard.

What’s going to happen to our Christmas Eve tradition of pizza after mass at Grandma and Grandpa’s house? Who is going to feed the deer lurking in the backyard of that house on Chancery Drive? What am I going to do when I want to swing by their house for a cup of coffee when I visit my parents?

On top of the questions swirling around in my head, I also felt as if I was losing Mom-Mom all over again — that house was the last place she called home. Her room is still filled with her belongings, ranging from her gorgeous jewelry to her collection of books and pocketbooks. To me, she became a part of that house, and now, I’m sad I won’t be able to go back to it.

Needless to say, the situation has left me conflicted: I understand Maryland is home for Grandma and Grandpa, but at the same time, I selfishly want them to stay here. That way, I could continue to visit with them, to talk to Grandpa about Tar Heel sports, and to have coffee with Grandma while enjoying some of her fresh baked goodies.

I had the privilege of being able to see them a week ago when I had to bring my dad back from Durham dropping off a car at my uncle’s house. I sat on their beige leather couch in their living room, soaking in every sight around me. It would be the last time I set foot in that house on Chancery Drive.

Grandma, Grandpa and I visited one another as we normally do, even though we all knew this would be the last in the house we knew and loved.

After about 30 minutes of conversation, Grandma motioned for me to go to the kitchen table, where she had a box with a bow on it and a small jewelry chest made of seashells. I recognized the chest right away — it was one of the last Christmas gifts I gave Mom-Mom as a child.

Grandma told me she gathered some of Mom-Mom’s favorite things to give to me to make sure I had a piece of her wherever I went. The gifts included the shell chest, and in it, one of her favorite necklaces made with colorful marbled stones.

In the box contained a book Mom-Mom read everyday —
“Poems of Faith” by Helen Steiner Rice. She kept it at her reading table next to her forest green Lazy Boy recliner, where she would spend her mornings reading her Bible and her poems while enjoying a cup of coffee.

In the book was a picture of a Facebook post Grandma made on what would have been Mom-Mom’s 107th Birthday, which also included her favorite picture of Mom-Mom.

Then there was the box, which contained my favorite items: a purple shirt clad with jeweled designs and a photo of me as a toddler, Grandma and Mom-Mom, all sitting together on my parents’ living room couch.

Grandma knew I wanted to have a piece of her and Mom-Mom.

These few things will have more meaning than any possession I will ever purchase or come to own for a multitude of reasons. But they’ll also help me to gain closure on this chapter of my life and guide me through this transition of my grandparents moving to their new, yet old, home six hours away.

To my Grandma and Grandpa: thank you for all of the hugs, laughs, fun family meals and most of all, for the love you’ve given me and my family. I look forward to making the trips to the Ellicott City area to visit y’all and to write this new chapter together.

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