By Amelia Rodriguez
My grandparents own three full acres of land that sprawl all the way to the local college, full of twining woods and roots and even a sand mountain. That yard watched three generations grow, experiencing my first attempts at baseball and my grandfather’s coaching. Kikky, my childhood cat, memorized it like it was her very own territory. That yard holds the deepest of my memories.
Grandpa used to hold my tiny hand and call me sugarlump when we sat on the porch together while it rained. He told me to keep my eye on the baseball and wait until it became the size of a watermelon, his light-colored eyes bright and proud when it bounced off my plastic bat.
He watched me from the homemade swing with a Styrofoam cup of coffee, whether it was me trying to show off throwing a baseball, hitting the birdie with my badminton, or attempting to ride a lawn mower. He was more patient with those activities than others, his hands itching to pull the string when I had a loose tooth.
He watched me as we created a small farming patch in that yard, my small hands blistering with that till. We crouched over the freshly turned dirt, his fingers deftly making holes for me to put onion bulbs in. We had many great harvests together from that patch: snap peas, onions, potatoes, and tomatoes.
My orange cat, Kikky, followed me from the porch and past the shed. She would accompany me as I pretended to be a Native American girl. I wore no shoes until I stepped barefoot on an acorn. Kikky would lie with me in the grass, her chest a deep purr while I watched the clouds go by.
Years later, that swing set is empty. There is no more rushing outside to give my grandpa lemonade after he mows that yard. The rain falls on the awning of the porch with no one to watch it.
Barely a few years after that, there was no more Kikky. The yard work is tougher now, only Grandma and me. We yell and scream at each other between the panes of the doorway, our views too warped to coexist peacefully without him. The riding mower broke down, leaving us to push mow the never-ending greenery. The sun glares down on my neck when I gather all the tree limbs, when I plant flowers because there is no one else to eat those snap peas, onions, potatoes, or tomatoes. Grandma is impatient, there is always work to be done, but her hip doesn’t move like it used to.
The yard, vast and full of memories, is where I learned to play lacrosse with my uncle. It felt the feet of our family run over it during the summer and heard my little cousins’ laughter as they got hit with water balloons. Even if the work is hard, I can still see the shadow of my grandfather watching me from the swing set. He looks on as Grandma pushes around and around with the work of the living.
Even though that swing set is empty and Kikky no longer follows me, my new cat Thomas is stuck to me like glue. He lazily but stubbornly follows behind me as I pick up sticks, his green eyes blinking slowly when I catch him.
That yard was there when I cried my eyes out this summer from having my heart broken, Thomas purring as I faced the canopy of the trees. Grandma continues to talk of dying, waiting to rejoin those long gone.
That yard so full of life and death holds so many things I won’t give up— soon I will be the only one there.