The List

 

His  “To Do” List
Take girlfriend to the Boise airport 7AM
Make the bed
Wash the dishes
Reserve party of 3 for dinner tonight

Her “To Do” List
Stop at nearest coffee stand for a latte
Meet Grandma at the Portland airport
Drive new car with Grandma back to Boise to meet boyfriend
Call Russ and remind him of his “To Do” List

An Unfinished “To Do” List
Bed in disarray
scattered dirty dishes cover the kitchen counter
“Reservations?” A declined credit card…
Grandma pays for dinner

Grandma’s “To Do” List to me
Buy Rope for car
Stock trunk with bottled water
Granola bars, don’t forget the blanket
Break up with Russ

I remember that day like it was yesterday.  I remember my grandmother taking out a pen and a piece of paper and telling me, “Heather, write down this “To Do” list” I paused for a moment as she said “Break up with Russ”, shocked, at her honesty.  She could see my hesitancy and so she said ,”Go on, write it down”, as if this list was just something ordinary.  So, I wrote it down, “Break up with Russ” She was truly sincere about the feelings she had toward him.  For some reason, I didn’t take offense to what she said, like I had all the other times my own mother criticized him.  Maybe it was because I genuinely cared about what my grandmother thought and valued her opinion.  I knew she loved me and she wanted the best for me.  She knew I could do better.  Shortly after our visit, I finished that To Do list, and I broke up with my boyfriend. That was just the start though – I realized (soon after that) I wanted so much more out of my life.  I wanted to finish school, I wanted to  reconnect with my father and a family I had been taken away from for more years than I want to account for.. I wanted a NEW LIFE .. A NEW TO DO LIST!

Taking control of my life and making decisions for myself was one of the first “To Do’s” on my list. During a 15 minute break, I called my aunt barb and told her I wanted to change my life, and maybe I would take some classes at BSU part-time and keep my job at Alaska Airlines. I’ll never forget what she told me, “You need to go to college full-time if you want your life to change.” She told me I shouldn’t limit myself to just Idaho, that I should come to Washington and look at schools in that area too, and she would help me.. she would set up all of the visits and all I had to do was come to Seattle for the weekend.  I remember getting off the phone, going back to my desk…looking at my co-worker Dustin and saying, “My life is about to change.”  I was so scared to leave it all behind.  Moving to a city much bigger than Boise, making new friends, living in a new home with my Aunt Dina & Uncle Nick and cousins, working at the SEA-TAC airport until school started in the fall, so much change in such a small amount of time.  I was able to spend some quality time with my dad, as he flew down to Boise, helped me pack all my stuff up and drive me to Seattle.  It was a great drive, getting to know him, and sharing stories back and forth.  I remember feeling a little sad and helpless as he brought up the last box, telling me goodbye.. this was my first night in Seattle, staring at my new room full of unopened boxes, I was a little unsure of what had just happened. I remember wondering and hoping that I had made the right decision to leave Boise.  The next morning, my Aunt Barb took me to breakfast at the Varsity (which would become one of my favorite places to have breakfasts with my family), she reassured me that this was the right decision and my life was going to change, and to enjoy every minute of it, because once college started – it would go by quicker than I ever imagined.  And, she was right, it did! I already had a good friend (Ormond) who had transferred from Boise to SEA-TAC and he was my familiar face at Alaska Airlines, and he introduced me to so many more people – we had some great times out together.  I did get lost a few times, learning my way around Seattle (This was before GPS), my Aunt Dina helped me remember where I was going .. with some “creative” songs & stories, I still remember a few of them today.   I absolutely loved living with my Aunt Dina, Uncle Nick and the girls.  They were like the family I always wished I had, they all  love each other and take care of each other.  I’m so glad to have spent that time with them before going to school.

College changed my life in more ways than I ever thought possible.  This is where I met my husband, just as my aunts said that I would.  And, to their own doing, we met at a football game that I didn’t even want to attend, but my Aunt Dina signed me up and told me I was going.  He is my best friend, the love of my life, my prince charming. We’ve been married for almost three years now, and this weekend will be the first weekend that my grandmother will be coming over to see our first house together.  Nate is already making sure the fridge is filled with foods she will enjoy, that we have a variety of tea for the mornings and even some coffee / latte t-discs for my Aunt Dina who will also be visiting.  “I’m going to move the Play Station back upstairs,” he tells me, “Because your grandmother will be here this weekend, and I want the living room to look nice.”  Without even asking, without even giving him a “To Do” list, he is making his own “To Do” list, because that’s just the kind of husband he is.

I would like to think that after our visit this weekend,
my grandmother will have a “To Do” list
for me that might read something like this:
Pull remaining weeds in the back yard
Plant at least one veggie in your garden
Water the roses
KEEP HUSBAND

 

Remember

He carefully places each sugar cookie
On the table next to the sprinkles and homemade frosting
His mother helps him decorate his heart
He tells her, “Momma, you’re the most important thing in my life”

For a moment
I remember
Rolling out the dough
Pressing the cookie cutters
With my tiny fingers
Decorating
Frosting
Sprinkling
Sugar Cookies
With her, my mother
I remember.

Every morning
She stops by for a cup of coffee
He doesn’t remember all the time
Who she is
But she reminds him with a friendly,
“Dad, you know who I am”
He smiles, and remembers..
His daughter
His grand-kids
His favorite time of the year, the start of blueberry season..
His precious memories
He remembers.

Every afternoon
He takes a walk with his mangled dog he calls “Sally”
to the cafe where he kindly pays for his meal
With his library card
“I’ll be down to pay, so sorry about that”
My aunt says over the phone
She has grown accustomed to this call
Along with spending time at a familiar place: COSTCO
His cart is filled with gallon sized coffee and ranch dressing
He remembers his late wife, “Sally” and dinner parties
Entertaining guests galore
A full house
He remembers.

Every evening
She kisses her youngest daughter goodnight
She has a selective memory
But I know she remembers
Her mother
Her younger sisters
Her oldest daughter
Horseback riding
Homecoming Dress shopping..
Heartfelt conversations
Homemade Sugar Cookies
She remembers.

~Heather Decker