© Richard Louissaint, 2013
And then we broke up…
The nursing home sat on a block off Hillside Ave. in Jamaica, Queens. We got out of the rented sedan and began our march towards the Hope Highland Home. Sam walked ahead of me past the wheelchair ramp and up the stairs. Remembering that I had left the gift in the trunk, I ran back to the car. After grabbing the bag with the gift and closing the trunk, I stood still watching her approach the building that attempted to blend in with the surrounding apartment buildings, with their old red brick exteriors. But the nursing home still managed to feel sterile. This trip was one of many reprieves that had popped up one after another from our relationship troubles.
Sam stopped and turned around to look at me as she got to the double glass doors. Her eyebrows lightly accentuated with a brush, were raised high, with her head tilted down.
“Are you coming?” she yelled out.
“Yes!” I answered. I walked quickly to her with nerves barely intact, ready to do something maybe, extraordinary.
Childhood memories are filled with moments of big victories and big disappointments. Why big? Because everything is big when you don’t know how hard adulthood will be, and you think your parents denying you something you want is the end of the world. Childhood memories are also a montage of people and places that make everything so great in a sometimes scary world.
Besides playing games on his Commodore 64, going to Eddy’s house also meant being offered a meal if I stayed over until dinnertime. His mother, who everyone in our crew affectionately called Mrs. Beaubrun was a complete contrast to her husband, a loud and intimidating man. She always welcomed me with a smile and gentle greeting in Haitian kreyol; Always asking about my family and basically being a second mother to me.
Some time in my late 20s, after Eddy and I had already grown apart–as most childhood friendships inevitably do–, Mrs. Beaubrun suffered some massive medical emergency and was in the hospital for months in a coma. I learned about everything through my parents who got the news two years after from Mrs. Beaubrun’s ex-husband.
Everything had been upside down with my family with the slow deterioration of my grandmother during those two years as well. When my parents asked if I wanted to see Mrs. Beaubrun, I immediately said yes. They warned me that she wasn’t the same. I wondered how much different she could be.
To be continued