Friday, June 07, 2013
My brother tells the most fascinating story about our grandmother, who happened to be a twin with the reputation for being a strange and unbalanced woman.
"Come here," she told him, when he was five. "Do you want to see something?"
"Come down the basement and I'll show you my cabbages."
"Your cabbages, Bubbie?"
"They're down here," she said. The old woman took his hand and pushed open the door to the dirt basement. She flicked on the one electric bulb which illuminated the narrow wood steps and pointed a bony finger into the darkness.
"There," she said.
With the trust only a five year old can possess, my brother started down the steps with the old woman close behind. He kept peering into the gloom, but except for a few rusting utensils, a ringer washing machine, and a furnace, his eyes showed him only a cold and gloomy place.
"I don't see them," he said.
"There," my grandmother said. "There. And over there, tomatoes. And there, I've got some corn."
My brother stared at the dirt and listened to the old woman's breathing. He was aware they were alone in the house. Confusion turned to fear and he eased back to the first step. The woman's gaze followed.
"Don't you see them?" she asked.
My brother answered by turning and hurrying upstairs. The old woman remained behind. He listened for her but many minutes passed before she finally appeared. With a sad face she closed the door to the basement.