The “Sold Fast” sign was up across the street as my family and I bustled in Grandma’s cozy, cookie-cutter home, smelling of fresh vanilla candle wax and homemade bread. The usual greetings took place, followed by a quick trip to the kitchen to lather a warm roll with honey and butter.
The living room overflowed with conversation and people. Little cousins constructing made-up games and marbles rolling across the floral carpet, accompanied by the weekly download of events from my chatty aunt:
“Did Cole win his basketball game yesterday?” “Alison was the star of her school assembly this week! She even sang a solo! You should have seen her!” She continued on with random facts of the week, promoting general conversation.
Finally, it was Grandma’s turn.
She abruptly stated that she was house hunting, and needed to evacuate the neighborhood immediately. A Muslim family was moving in next door.
She referred to her new neighbors in derogatory terms, expanding on the faults of people she knew only from a brief gaze and a forced wave. She persisted in her rude and unintelligent comments, not one family member attempted to challenge her ideas.
Why didn’t I say anything? My inability to counter my Grandma’s speech bothered me.
Time passed. My Grandma didn’t move, but she did not change her opinions either. And I tried to forget about our differences.
As I was mowing my grandmother’s front lawn one afternoon, I caught sight of her neighbor preparing to do the same. His children were running around the yard; his wife sat on the shady porch. As I was returning the mower to the backyard, I glanced back at the cheerful scene from across the street. Nothing seemed to be threatening or disturbing–completely serene.
I believe we have the ability to renounce stereotypes, and choose acceptance over rejection. I may be unable to alter my Grandmother’s incorrect perceptions, but my time is arriving soon, and the Sunday afternoon conversations will be different.