Page 149

and-a-half months I’m not there. * This summer, we’re returning to the house once again. It’s been a whirlwind year for us—we’ve had a couple hospital visits, a college decision, and a career change— and the lake will be a welcome getaway for a few days of peace. We’ll also see both of my mom’s brothers, my aunt, and one of my cousins. They live hundreds of miles out west, so we’re only together like this once every five years. When we arrive, we find my uncles hard at work on the overhanging tree branches. My aunt tells us they’ve already repaired some broken planks on the deck. “Might as well put them to work while they’re here, right?” she says, but we all know what she’s not saying: my grandparents are getting too old to take care of a house this big, and eventually, something will have to be done. * My grandfather has to have hip surgery. He has a visit scheduled at Mayo Clinic the week after we leave. He’s had procedures done before, but this one’s direr than the rest: if it doesn’t work, it could leave him in permanent need of a walker. If nothing is done at all, it could be even worse. I sit with him in the living room. He’s in his favorite chair, the one that faces the TV, its green upholstery scattered with woven silhouettes of moose. On the walls hang photos of grizzly bears and snow foxes, taken by my uncle, and a framed set of Native American arrowheads discovered by my great-grandfather, their stone surfaces flaked into divots. The room’s giant bookcase is filled with hardcovers about hunting, fishing, and the national parks. My grandfather is an avid outdoorsman; he always has been. As he gets older, I know his hip is preventing him from doing the things he used to love. He has always been a solid, steady man, a pillar, but he grows somber and quiet when he talks about the surgery. As he trails off into silence, I know he’s scared, even if he won’t say it. “Hey, we can compare scars,” I joke, showing him the long, curved one on my own hip that looks like a shark bite. He smiles, the mood lightened, if only for the moment. * A few days later, I’m sitting in the same chair, playing cards with my uncles. They’re teaching me how to play euchre the right way, they say, because apparently my brother and I have been playing it wrong for years. Classic rock drifts from the radio

STEINER

OAR

149

Profile for Oakland Arts Review

Oakland Arts Review Volume 4  

Oakland Arts Review Volume 4  

Advertisement