They were old; I was young. They had a swimming pool, a piano, and wooden blocks to play with. They were people who gave me Christmas presents and had Easter egg hunts in their backyard. They took me to craft shows and made me sandwiches for lunch. They were quiet, kind people, my grandparents. My grandmother taught me how to use a latch hook, and my grandfather built me a doll house. She died when I was twelve; cancer took him two years later. We planted little trees over their ashes, and I remember that my mother cried.
When I was younger, I was always somewhat intimidated by adults. They were bigger, smarter, and had authority over what I was and was not allowed to do. And then there were 'old people', like my grandparents, who were very nice and caring, but nonetheless from a different era than myself. As a child, this latter group was slightly more daunting; they were like other adults, except that they had a certain delicate quality to them, a quality that rambunctious little children just don't possess. The adult world seemed like another universe compared to my life as child. It was a mystery to me, to the point that adults - 'old people' included - were like a different type of being. 'Real' people were elementary school children like myself; adults were complex entities concerned with things like 'jobs' and 'taxes' and other nonsense.
I miss my grandparents, and I miss the fact that I never had the opportunity to know them outside of their 'mystical' context. As I enter into the adult world myself, I find it to be less perplexing than I originally imagined. Adults are no longer the remote, complicated beings that they once were; they are people that I converse with every day. They are college students like my brothers, middle-aged like my mother and father, or wise beyond their years like my surviving grandparents. I wish I had been given the chance to get to know my mother's parents as the very real and magnificent people that they had been.
We moved into my grandparents' old house a year ago, after a harrowing legal battle with my aunt, who has since estranged herself from my mother and, consequently, from myself. Over the past year, the walls have been repainted, the pool redone, and the furniture replaced; it no longer resembles my grandparents' house as I remember it from my youth. However, a few things remain unchanged. The piano is in the same corner, untuned but not unplayed. The wallpaper in the bathroom dates back to my mother's own childhood. And when I look out of my bedroom window, I can see the two little trees that my family planted there, years ago.