Go Wake up Your Grandma!

Told by Jim Heath
(as dictated to April Heath Pastis)
I loved my grandma.* My grandma’s mom, was the sweetest kindest woman who always treated me as if I was the best kid in town. One night I was awakened from my sleep and saw my grandma walk into my room. I sat straight up in bed cause I couldn’t remember grandma ever coming to our house. I had always seen her at Grandma Sullivan’s house. Grandma didn’t live nearby and I only saw her when she came visiting.
“Grandma!,” I said. “What are you doing here?”
“I need to talk to you Jimmy. I need you to do me a favor.”
“Sure, Grandma. Anything you want.”
She sat down on my bed and talked to me in a quiet kind voice.
“Jimmy, I need you to go over to your grandparents and wake up Grandpa. Ask him to go into the other room with you. When you get into the other room, tell your Grandpa that I came to you and told you to wake him up. Tell him to wake up your Grandma Sullivan very gently, and tell her that I died and she needs to call home.”
“No. You can’t go away grandma. I don’t want you to go away. I love you Grandma!”
She smiled and said, “I love you too, and I’ll always be with you Jimmy, but I need you to do this for me.”
Well, I thought it was some kind of game but I did what grandma said. I got dressed and ran down to my grandparents’ house. It wasn’t that far away. You got to understand that I spent a lot of my time over there. So, even though it was the middle of the night, I didn’t have any trouble getting to their house.
So, I got to the house and I was kind of hestitant about going into my grandparents’ bedroom. You just didn’t do it. No one, no how, no way was ever allowed to go in their room. For no reason, at all. Well you get the point. So, I crept into their room and knelt down by Grandpa.**
“Grampa. Grandpa.” I nudged him.
“Jimmy! What the hell are you doing here?” Grandpa was a man you didn’t cross.
“Gggggrandpa,” I stuttered. “I need you to come out here for a minute.”
“What? Well, all right,” he said and got out of bed and followed me into the living room.
“What is it? Is everyone OK?” he asked, worried something had happened to mom or one of us kids.
“Well, kinda.” I said and I told him about the game grandma was playing.
“ARE YOU PLAYING WITH ME?” Grandpa said. At the point, I realized it wasn’t a game.
“No sir.
“Grandma told me to come here and to wake you up. She said for to tell you to wake up Grandma Sullivan very gently and to tell her that she had died and that she needed to call home.”
Grandpa looked me up and down with a scowl on his face, then his expression softened.
“If you weren’t just like your grandma I’d whoop you good.” he said. “OK, stay in here.”
He went into the bedroom and before long I heard sobbing.
“Norm, why are you telling me this? You know mom hasn’t been well.” I heard grandma say.
Grandma came out of the bedroom and went into the kitchen to make a pot of coffee. Grandpa followed her and took her in his arms. That’s the first time I remember him ever holding her like that.
“Ruth, he said. “Jimmy’s here and he said your mom told him to come here and tell you that she died. Now you’re going to have to call home and find out what’s up.”
Grandma looked at me.
“Well, shxt,” she said and she walked over to the telephone to make a call. But before she got there the phone rang. It was her sister, her mom had died.

* Ida Mae Dollins, mother of Anna Ruth (Buchanan) Sullivan, wife of James Buchanan, died Feb 25, 1951 in Cardwell, Craighead, Missouri. James Harry Heath, was her great grandson. He was 13 years old.
** Norman G. Raymond Sullivan, son of Walter Gray Sullivan and Minnie Belle Duncan, and grandfather to James Harry Heath.

Let’s Play


Told by James Heath
(retyped by April Heath Pastis)
One day when we were coming home from school, we came across some kids playing in front of their house. Well like all kids would we stopped to say hi and pretty soon they asked us to come inside. So, we did of course and we went up to one of the sons’ room. There were three kids that lived there. We had a great time and pretty soon it was getting dark.
It was a rule that we should be home before the street lights came on, so we hurried out of there. They asked us to come back tomorrow and of course we did.
They didn’t live but three or four houses away from us and we spent a lot of time over there after school. It never occurred to me that I didn’t see them at school, I just enjoyed playing with them. As I recall they had a lot of great toys. We were poor and most of the toys we had had been made or carved out of wood. But these kids had store bought toys. They seemed to enjoy our company though they didn’t talk much.
Every day and weekends we’d go over to their house and hang out with our new neighbors. One Saturday, we were all Derald and I, were dressing quickly to get over there to do some serious playing. Kittie, who always tagged along, was rushing to catch up with us.
Well, my mom noticed that we were getting ready to take off again and she asked where we were playing these days that took up so much of our time. Well, we told her about the three kids who lived down the street.
“What house?” mom asked, trying to figure out what we were talking about.
With a look of puzzlement, she decided she’d walk over with us.I thought she was just being friendly and wanted to say hello to our new neighbors.
So, Derald, Kittie, my mom and I all walked down the street to the end of the Ridgeway. When we arrived there was nothing there. I mean there was a lot and a house foundation, but there was no house.
“Is this where you’ve been coming every day?” mom asked.
“Well, Yes and No,” I said. There was a house there and there were three kids that we played with.
“Jimmy,” my mom said softly, “I used to play there with three kids when I was little. But the house caught on fire and everyone, including the three kids, died in the house.”

Jimmy? Who Are You Talking to?

told by James Heath
(as told to April Heath Pastis)
After your mom and me got married we lived with mom’s mom for a short 
time in a house on Avenue A. We stayed up in the second floor and we 
didn’t have much furniture at all. In fact, I think we were using 
some lawn furniture for chairs. Anyway, Jimmy couldn’t have been more 
than two or three, he probably was two because I remember we borrowed 
your grandma’s rocking chair so Donna could rock the baby (Curtis). 
Jimmy was the best kid you could imagine, he’d make up his own games 
and keep himself occupied so that you barely knew he was there. He 
was always talking to himself, so I thought he had an imaginary 
friend like most kids do. One afternoon, I heard Jimmy talking to 
himself again. It wasn’t kid talk but sounded pretty adult, but he 
was always an old man, even at the age of two. I was feeling a little 
guilty that I didn’t spend more time with him and worried that 
imaginary friends were probably not healthy, so I walked into the 
bedroom. When I did, Jimmy fell silent.
“Jimmy? Who are you talking to?”
”That man,” Jimmy said and pointed at the rocking chair.
”Now, Jimmy. You are only pretending,” and I walked over to the 
chair. “There’s no one in this chair.” I said and reached my hand out 
to touch the back of the chair, but before I touched it, the rocking 
chair tilted back. It began rocking back and forth and I found myself 
backing away from the chair as I watched it rock back and forth. It 
started out slowly and then it began to rock furiously.
I stood next to Jimmy and I felt that something was sitting in that 
chair. It also did not like me. I felt as if it was going to say 
something, but it didn’t.
Instead, I felt it say “Get Out of My House.”
Well, I nearly shxx my pants. I grabbed Jimmy and got out of that 
room. The thing is, it didn’t seem to have anything against Jimmy. I 
felt it didn’t like me.

The Dinner Guest

told by Donna Heath
(as told to April Heath Pastis)
I had the most beautiful dog when I was a kid. It was part Pekinese and part Terrier. It was golden with long, soft beautiful hair. I called her Pug, even though I didn’t know anything about Pugs then, but because she had a flat nose that was more like a Pug than even
some of the Pugs I’ve had since. One night, we were all at the dinner table. Which wasn’t usual cause my brother Tevis was usually working or one of my sisters were out. During dinner, Pug used to sit as close to the table as she could hoping someone would drop a bit of
food and she’d nab it. We hadn’t been sitting down too long when Pug started barking. She ran over to the front door and barked and barked. She didn’t stop. Then she started backing up, barking the whole way. She backed up, right under the table and kept barking. I
watched her head and eyes move as if they were following the path of a person walking through the kitchen and start toward the hall. She followed the “person” who wasn’t there, barking all the way and chased “the person” we couldn’t see to the bottom of the stairs. She didn’t go up. She just stopped and kept barking.