Gone Too Soon
This is dedicated to all Grandmothers and their Granddaughters, everywhere!
Saturdays were always special for Jream. Every Saturday she would get to go and spend the day at her Grandma Bea’s house. Jream couldn’t wait to get there so she would wake up extra early and race to get dressed, all in hopes of making it to her Grandma’s house faster. She never did get there earlier because she still had to wait for her Dad to give her a ride to the house, but by the time he was ready to go, Jream was certainly ready. The ride to her Grandma’s house generally took about fifteen minutes.
Along the way, Jream and her Dad would stop at the local convenience store to pick up missing ingredients needed to make Grandma Bea’s more than famous, buttermilk biscuits. Things like butter, flour, baking soda, or salt. Jream absolutely loved her Grandmother’s biscuits as they were by far her favorite food to eat.
After purchasing all that was needed and quickly leaving the store it would take just a few more minutes before finally arriving at Grandma Bea’s.
The house was a perfect Grandma-ish house. You could walk inside each time and smell some really good cooking. Each room was big enough to get lost in but small enough to be warm and cozy. They were big old fashioned rooms complete with dark hardwood flooring. The furniture was all wood and everything was covered in plastic, not to mention no one ever wanted to go into the basement.
On the outside, the two-story house was made of red brick and was surrounded by tall trees that were just perfect for climbing. It was the house everyone in the family went to for holidays, birthdays, and all other major events. It was where all the kids in the family went when they needed a pick me up or a really great home-cooked meal.
As Jream walked in through the side door that led straight into the kitchen, she found Grandma Bea waiting by the stove as she prepared a pot of percolating coffee. She stopped momentarily to give Jream a long hug hello.
“I’ll be back in a little while ladies, behave.” Jream’s Dad said as he placed the groceries on the table and just as quickly as he had arrived he had to leave; he was always working.
Jream and Grandma Bea looked up at each other and smiled. They each knew behaving wasn’t in their vocabulary.
….. The two of them would sit down at that round table in the kitchen, with the little TV that sat on the corner of it playing some show that neither one of them paid any attention to; all while laughing to conversations about boys, girls with attitude problems, and then comparing the times to when Bea had been a girl Jream’s age. For hours they would do this, but not without forgetting to help themselves to some freshly made biscuits.
It’s magic, Jream thought. She had suddenly looked up from the fluffy biscuit in her right hand. The one smothered in maple syrup; that was how she loved to eat it. As always Grandma Bea has done it again. How does she always get these things made without me seeing what she does or without asking for my help? Jream wondered.
“Wow, Grandma I love you. Thank you,” she said.
Grandma Bea looked over at Jream and smiled. “I love you too child.”
And the day continued on …
After a little while, the Saturday visit was over and it was time to go. As usual, Grandma Bea had a container filled with biscuits to go for Jream and she handed them over to her.
“See you next week?” Jream’s Dad would say as he kissed his mom.
“Same time, different channel,” Grandma Bea would respond as they both laughed. The three of them hugged.
And Jream’s Dad took off towards home to prepare for the week until the following weekend.
As time went by every weekend was pretty much the same and all was well.
Until that one summer …
Having recently turned seventeen Jream had just received her first car. As she woke up early Saturday morning she glanced at the new messages on her phone. Not only had she just been invited to this beach party on the following Saturday that everyone seemed to be talking about, but this really cute guy named Jordan asked her to go with him to the movies today.
“Heck yeah!” Jream yelled with excitement.
But then she thought about her Grandma Bea. This will be the first time I have to cancel on her. Immediately, Jream felt saddened. But she felt deep down her Grandma Bea would understand. After all, I’ve been there every weekend … and I swear I’ll be there next Saturday, Jream thought as she tried assuring herself and gathered the courage to make her cancellation call.
She dialed the number to her Grandma’s house. 1 5 1 6 4 8 9 . . . . . .
“Hello,” a bright and cheerful woman’s voice sounded as she answered the phone. It was indeed Grandma Bea.
“Hi Grandma, it’s Jream.”
“Oh, hey baby. Are you on your way? I’m going to need you to get me some buttermilk. I am almost out.”
“….About that Grandma, I really wanted to go to see this movie today with Jordan… Remember him?”
Yes, I do Jream. It’s okay baby. I know you’re growing up. But remember now, you still need to learn how to make these biscuits the way you like them. So just make sure you’re here next weekend. Okay?!”
Although she knew that the party was next Saturday and that more than likely she would have to miss another weekend with Grandma Bea, reluctantly, Jream said “Okay, I promise. Love you, Grandma!”
“I love you too Jream.” And the two hung up the phone.
With much excitement, Jream prepared for her date. She took her shower and washed up using Dove body wash instead of the normal Irish Spring. She carefully shaved her legs and painted her toes. There was an outfit in her closet perfect for the event, her Grandma Bea had bought it for her. As she pulled her top off the hanger she thought about the fluffy biscuits and how she missed her conversation with her Grandmother for the day. Her stomach grumbled. It was passed lunch after all. All dressed in her printed leggings, midnight colored blouse, topped off with her cropped denim jacket, Jream left her house and drove to the movie theater to meet up with Jordan.
Jream pulled up to the theater. She was more than excited. A smile spread across her face from ear to ear. This was actually going to be her first official date. She got out of the car and walked inside. Jordan still wasn’t there. She grabbed her phone and sent him a text. Looking around the theater she noticed there was an arcade inside and she walked towards it, put fifty cents into the first machine she saw, a racing machine and played while she waited. After texting Jordan for more than two hours without a reply Jream realized she had been stood up. Wow, I did all this for nothing, she thought. She thought about her Grandma, the biscuits, all those Saturday’s that she had just recklessly thrown away with a lie and Jordan was a no-show!
Anger crept over her like never before. I would rather be mad than crying, she thought to herself.
“Don’t cry. Don’t do it. Dang it!” she said as a tear fell. The anger and embarrassment she felt inside had left her feeling more than just a little teary-eyed.
Jream got up and stormed off towards her car. She opened the door. Got in, slammed the door, turned off her phone, gave herself a moment to breathe, and then started it up. At that moment she decided to take the long way home.
As she pulled up in front of her house and parked her car in its normal spot in the driveway she realized there weren’t any lights on inside. No one else was home.
“Great, I actually need to talk to someone and I have no one!” she said under her breath as she stomped towards her room.
Jream was older now and her hormones were changing. All sorts of things were happening with her emotions and her feelings. She didn’t know how to feel or even how to react. For the moment, she felt looking her Grandma Bea in the face or even just talking to her for the matter would be too hard. I never should’ve lied to her, she thought. Tears welled up in her eyes. Immediately, she went straight to her room and turned off her lights without wasting a moment to dive into her bed. Quietly, she cried herself to sleep.
Later that evening, Jream awoke to a light tapping sound on her bedroom door.
… Knock, knock, knock.
“Sweetheart! it’s dad. Are you awake? I have something for you.”
“Come in,” she said.
“Hey honey, you’ve been up here in this dark room like this all evening? Did everything go okay with Jordan? he asked.
“Eh Dad, I’m fine! What you got?”
“Well, I stopped by moms a little while ago to see how you both were doing and she said you had gone to the movies today instead. Which I guess I’m not supposed to ask about?”
Jream looked up at him with a blank stare. Her eyes were wide open and her eyebrows raised. Her face said it all. I don’t want to talk about this Dad.
“…. Anyway, she gave me these to give to you,” Jream’s father handed her a container of freshly made biscuits.
“You need to call her and thank her!” he said.
“I will dad,” Jream said. Her mouth was already full of bread.
“You and these biscuits,” he said as he patted down her hair.
Jream looked up at him and smiled. They both giggled just a bit and he turned to leave her room.
For the next few days, all was quiet in the house. Jream knew she was so wrong for lying to her Grandmother and to top it off, she never did call to thank her for the biscuits. The only thing that was on Jream’s mind was the beach party on Saturday. She just couldn’t wait to pull up to the sand in her new car with all her friends. And maybe … just maybe Jordan will be there? she thought. Thoughts of Jordan had completely taken over Jream’s mind until finally at last Saturday morning had arrived. Oh, Jordan ..why can’t I get you out of my head? You better be at this party today, she thought to herself as she went about the house doing what needed to be done for the day. She cleaned her room. She washed the dishes and she folded the laundry. All that was left for her to do was to actually ask to go to the beach party.
“Come on Jesus, be with me. I have to go to this party,” she said as she walked into her dad’s room.
As she explained to her dad that she wanted to go to a beach party instead of Grandma Bea’s house for the afternoon, he couldn’t believe the choices his daughter was starting to make. He thought that he had raised her better. He had hoped that she would learn to respect time with family and the values received from it. But in the back of his mind, he knew that Jream was a good kid so he asked her to simply do one thing.
“You gotta call your Grandmother and tell her why you don’t want to go today.”
“Dad! really? please! can’t I just go and I promise if I just get to go to this last party today I will be at Grandma Bea’s next weekend!”
“No Jream. If you want to go … That’s what you need to do. She deserves to know. She waits for you, you know.”
“…. I know. Okay. I will call her.” Jream sighed.
Jream’s father rolled his eyes in disapproval and turned around to continue with what he was working on. Jream noticed but decided to pretend like she didn’t. She went into her room and picked up her phone. As she looked at it. She thought about all the weekends as a kid with her Grandma Bea. She had spent so many. She couldn’t understand why everyone was being so touchy about her growing up. Sure, I miss our conversations. And of course, I love biscuits and I know I’m supposed to learn how to make them. It’s tradition. Yes, I know it’s important for me to spend time with my Grandma because she’s getting older now. But don’t I get a life too? Jream thought.
For a second she thought about calling her Grandma and saying sorry she couldn’t make it again, but she decided to call and say she was on her way.
Jream took a deep breath and dialed the numbers. 1 5 1 6 4 8 9 ….
“…Hello,” it was Grandma Bea.
“Jream, baby! Hey there. How are you? Thank you for calling me.”
“No problem Grandma. I am fine. How are you? I am so sorry I haven’t been around or that I haven’t even called. Please forgive me!”
“Jream, now stop that! You don’t owe me any apologies. You hear me?
“Yes, I hear you Grandma.”
“Good. Now, what’s going on today? Are you coming over or do you have a hot date?” They both laughed.
“There’s my baby,” Grandma Bea said.
“Well, I did want to go to this beach party that starts in a couple hours, but I was going to get dressed and come on over to your house today.”
“Uh-uh. Listen Jream, you go on over to that beach party. What time do you think it will be over?”
“Um, I don’t know. Maybe around five or six o’clock tonight.”
“Okay, well that’s perfect. How about we have a girl’s night as we used to when you were little? I’ll show you how to make these biscuits tonight. I dunno, I’m just not feeling too hot right now and at least that will give me some time to get some more energy.”
“…You sure Grandma? Are you okay?”
Oh, yes, baby! I am fine. You go on now and I’ll see you tonight. And don’t worry about bringing anything. I got your dad to bring everything we needed when he came last weekend.
“Okay. Well, I love you. I’ll see you tonight.”
“I love you too child!”
“Bye, bye,” they said as they hung up their phones.
Jream ran into her dad’s room to give him the news.
“Just want to let you know I spoke to Grandma Bea. She told me to go to the beach party after all and then when it’s over I’m going to meet her at the house for a sleepover tonight. Okay?!”
“Okay babe! That sounds great. Have fun.”
“I will. I’m going to get ready now and leave in a bit.
“Love you too” Jream replied.
Thrilled that she made up with Grandma Bea and that she could go to the beach party, Jream ran into her room and put on the cutest bikini that she owned. The one with the black beaded fringe top and the gold boy short’s that she thought made her booty look just right. She walked up to her dresser mirror and blew a kiss at herself. She was cute and today she was feeling good. Jream walked over to where the keys sat on her nightstand and grabbed them. It was time to go.
She arrived to pick up her first friend and reached for her phone to call and let her know she was out front, but Jream couldn’t find her phone. Before she even had time to think, her friend was getting in the passenger seat. Jream decided her phone wasn’t important and she went to pick up her last friend so they could head to the beach.
The day was hot and sunny. The wind was calm and the waves splashed against the sand effortlessly. As Jream arrived at the beach she noticed that not only was Jordan’s car parked in the lot but most of her friends were as well. The two friends that Jream arrived with ran into the crowd and got lost almost as quickly as they arrived. Okay, she thought. As she walked around alone and observed her surroundings of wild and crazy high school kids that had apparently taken over a private beach for the day, Jream wasn’t sure if she was in the right place. Everyone was drinking. The music was way too loud, and … there he was. It was Jordan. Kissing some girl she had never seen before.
Immediately she didn’t want to be at the party anymore. There is nothing about this beach party that screams fun, she thought. They all look dumb. Drinking just wasn’t what Jream was into. She reached into her bag for her phone so she could call her friends. Oh yeah.
“Eh,” she sighed remembering she had forgotten it at home. There had to be at least two hundred teenagers acting wildly on the beach. She didn’t want to just leave her friends. So she started looking for them through the crowd.
Meanwhile, at home, Jream’s phone was ringing off the hook …
It was her dad. There had been an emergency and he was trying to alert her. Call after call just went to straight to voice mail. Jream’s dad didn’t know where she could be. Jream always had her phone. He decided to leave her one message, but before he could finish it Jream’s answering service cut him off and informed him that her inbox was to full for any more messages. He hung up the phone and waited. It was all he could do. It took Jream almost two hours to find her friends. She had gone through the entire crowd. After dealing with the pressures of teen smoking, drinking, and even sex, all of which Jream successfully turned down, she found her friends, who had both been drinking and explained to them that she was about to leave. Either of them were ready and they begged her to stay for a little while longer. Jream obliged, but only so she could look after her friends. For what seemed to be a few more hours of watching the stupidity of others, Jream couldn’t take it anymore. It had only been forty-five minutes, but it was long enough for her. She had to go.
“Are you guys coming or not?” she asked. “I’m leaving right now.”
And without another word she turned and started walking towards the parking lot. Her friends didn’t follow.
Jream was growing angry. But she decided not to let it bother her. Today’s decisions were all my own, she thought to herself as she sighed deeply. Just as she was about to reach her car. Jordan tapped her on the shoulder.
“Hey stranger!” he said.
Oh please don’t be him, she thought as she turned around. Surely enough as she did she realized it was Jordan and smiled with a huge fake smile. She really didn’t want to see him.
Hey, you! She said. And she punched him on the shoulder with a little force.
He laughed. She didn’t.
“I saw you, okay. Bye, Jordan. I’m going to my Grandma’s house. I don’t have the time for this!”
“You saw what?” he said slyly.
Jream looked at him with an evil glance and got in her car. She started it up and without another word, she drove off. Her days of worrying about Jordan were officially over. As Jream pulled off she watched the dumb expression on Jordan’s face fade away into nothingness and she laughed. She laughed so hard at herself, for everything. She couldn’t wait to tell her Grandma Bea all about her day and how she felt about Jordan now. He was just too dumb. Even better, she couldn’t wait to get her biscuits. Mmm, she thought. She was starting to get really hungry.
It took less than an hour to get to her Grandma’s house and as she pulled up out front she noticed there was an unusual amount of neighbors out today. All of them were looking at her and it made her feel a bit uneasy. Paying no mind to it, she went into her back seat and grabbed the bag she had packed for the night and started walking to the door that led into the kitchen. It was locked. Hmm, she thought. “Grandma!” she said, as she knocked. But there was no answer. Jream looked around at the starring neighbors who were still watching her. She knew there was a key under the plant by the door but she didn’t want to grab it with everyone watching. Well, she did say she wasn’t feeling good. Maybe she’s still laying down, Jream thought. Okay, I’ll just grab the key and put it somewhere else later on.
Bending over, she lifted the plant and grabbed the key from under it. Within seconds she had opened the door and was inside.
There was something strangely different about to today, however. There wasn’t any coffee percolating on the stove. The little TV that sat on the corner of the table wasn’t on and nothing was cooking. Not even a light was on anywhere in the house, it seemed.
“Hello! Grandma Bea,” Jream said as she walked in. The house was so quiet Jream thought her voice echoed back. As she looked around she realized that her Grandma’s usually clean home had things thrown about. Jream grabbed the strap of her bag a bit tighter suddenly feeling nervous. What happened? she thought. She turned so she could run out. It was then that she realized the piece of paper lying on the floor. It was a handwritten note and on it was a recipe as well. It was for Jream.
You are getting to be such a beautiful young lady.
I have always enjoyed our Saturdays together.
I hope spending time with me has taught you that family is very important, my child.
For we are only blessed with one.
While I know you would love to learn how to make these biscuits,
here is the recipe just in case.
Just always remember to add one special ingredient, Love.
Your Grandma Bea!
Before Jream could read anymore she stuffed the note into her bag and ran out the door. Not knowing exactly what was going on, she decided to drive home and see if her Dad was there. The fifteen minutes that it normally took seemed to take hours. As she pulled in front of her house and realized her Dad’s car wasn’t there, Jream grew even more suspicious and almost had a panic attack. It was as if she didn’t know how to breathe anymore, tears filled her eyes and she could barely see where she was going.
“Why?” she screamed, somehow knowing that she was going to hear some terrible news.
Jream made it inside the house and ran upstairs as quickly as she could. Her phone was on the floor. She must have dropped it in all her hustle and bustle earlier. The message light was blinking and Jream’s heart began racing out of control. For a second she almost didn’t want to listen to the messages. But she knew that she needed to. For some reason, she just knew that things weren’t right. She dialed the number to access her voice mail and put in her password. She had twenty new messages.
One was from her dentist, her school, and she had a few from some friends. Then there was one from Jordan. One from her Dad from the other day and also one from Grandma Bea from the other day and suddenly Jream realized how much she had been blowing people off. As the calls narrowed down she got to a call from her Dad. Immediately tears dropped from her eyes and she slid against her bedroom door down onto the floor. Crying was the only thing she could do. She dropped her phone and stopped listening to the rest of the message her Dad was leaving. Whatever he was saying, he had already said enough.
“….Sweetheart, it’s Dad. I’m here at the hospital with your Uncle and everyone. Grandma’s gone babe. She’s gone.” he said.
His voice broke out into tears of pain. He waited a few seconds and apologized before saying a prayer into the phone.
There was nothing for anyone to do. Jream’s Dad came home that night and barely said a word. He went straight to his room and Jream heard him crying throughout the walls. Jream stayed in her room as well and could not stop crying. She was so angry with herself for missing the last two weeks of her Grandma’s life. There was so much that she had wanted to tell her. There was so much that she still needed to learn. Oh no! I’ll never get another biscuit in my life again! the thought made her cry a little more. Suddenly, Jream remembered stuffing that last note into her bag. She got up, walked over to it, and took it out.
On one side was the note. On the other was the beginning of the recipe. Grandma Bea never got a chance to finish it. Jream starred at it for a second. She wiped the tears from her eyes so that one wouldn’t fall onto her precious note from her Grandma. Then out of nowhere, Jream laughed.
“Even in death, you can teach me a lesson, Grandma. You’ve given me the ingredients, but I have no idea what to do with them. Ha! Ha!”
“Man, I wish I would’ve just paid attention like you told me too. Nothing that I gave this up for was worth it.” Jream said out loud as she shook her head and cried some more.
It was at that moment that Jream realized the most valuable lesson of her life. That family should always be the most important people in your life. Friends will come and go, but family will always be there. She was so sorry to see her Grandma leave so soon but understood she was in a much better place.
Grandma Bea was certainly gone to soon but her memories and recipes still live on just like those of all Grandma’s out there.
On the back of the note…
1 ¾ cup flour
1 tsp sugar
1 ¼ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp baking soda
¼ cup chilled butter ( cut into small pieces)
1 cup buttermilk ( more if needed )