Marshlands had its own sort of everyday magic, too, in the way that only familiar childhood places away from home can. Much of that magic came from Mimi, who was unfailingly gorgeous and refined with her red lipstick, perfect makeup, and elegant Southern accent. She served us lemonade and iced tea on the porch, taught us to play rummy, and took us to Boombears, the nearby toy shop that (coincidentally?) went out of business shortly after Mimi’s 18 grandkids passed the age of Beanie Babies obsessions.
Even after Mimi got sick, some of the childhood magic of Marshlands lingered. My siblings and I still climbed on the low-hanging branches of the oak trees and bounced on the trampoline with rusty springs. Mimi still served lemonade and rum cake (with increasing portions of rum as her eyesight dwindled). Pop still snored in front of TV college football, and woke up to protest when anyone changed the channel.
But when we left, my mom would cry—not “sad to leave” kind of tears, but tears of a sort of loss I couldn’t quite understand. I was a preteen who had never watched someone close to me slowly slip away.
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