The Lost Umbrella
By Sandy Lo
Grandma had sat on the burlap couch that always reminded 4-year-old Dee Dee of an autumn theme, with its browns and burnt orange images. As years passed, the exact pattern of the couch had faded, but the rough, scratchy material is still etched into Dee Dee’s memory.
It was Christmas morning—a thrilling time for children. Dee Dee remembers how Christmas used to be. She never feared she’d be on the “naughty list”. Dee Dee was always a sweet little girl; she always listened; she always loved purely. In spite of her coming into the world by accident, born to a teenage father and a mother who already had three other children, among other terrible circumstances, Dee Dee was loved in return.
With little money, Dee Dee’s mother moved into Grandma’s house with all four of her children, while Daddy lived elsewhere—becoming an outcast, not without good reason, but Dee Dee can’t recall much or get an untainted history of events even to this day. All she knows about her parents’ past is they both made many mistakes. They both took advantage of love and were taken advantage by love.
Grandma never treated her grandchildren with anything else but adoration and warmth. Dee Dee doesn’t remember Grandma ever making them feel like they weren’t welcome, though, she’s now sure it couldn’t have been easy.
Thinking back to that Christmas, Dee Dee can’t recall if her father was there to watch her open her presents, or if she even saw him the entire day. She can’t remember what the tree looked like or the wrapping paper on a single gift. She can’t even remember any of her other gifts at all—even the biggest one.
Twenty-five years later, the only thing that Dee Dee remembers in detail is that yellow umbrella.
The umbrella wasn’t a gift from Santa Claus or Mom, but Grandma—sweet, sarcastic and loving Grandma who passed away a year after, due to cancer. Dee Dee doesn’t remember if the umbrella was on her wish list, but she loved it nonetheless. It was a practical gift; not a toy, and not to be opened inside the house—Grandma said that would bring bad luck.
The umbrella was ironically a sunny color with a ruffle trim and a smooth plastic handle. There were adorable little cartoonish children on the panels of the umbrella. Dee Dee couldn’t wait for a rainy day to use it; to hold her own personal sun up in the air and brighten a gloomy day.
Dee Dee remembers specifically using the umbrella once. She went with her mother to visit a friend of the family. It was a drizzly day; there wasn’t a strong need for an umbrella, but Dee Dee insisted she took her yellow one, jumping at the chance to use it.
They took a cab to and from the friend’s house. When Dee Dee returned to Grandma’s with her mother, she realized the umbrella was gone. Thinking back, Dee Dee doesn’t know how she could have forgotten her treasured gift in a taxi cab. She vaguely remembers being bitter, possibly blaming her mother’s friend for the mishap.
Dee Dee also insisted her mother call the cab company to see if anyone turned in the umbrella. No one had and no one ever did. Dee Dee was crushed, and she wondered if Grandma was mad at her for being so irresponsible. Even now, so many years after the incident, and after Grandma’s death—Dee Dee still feels guilty for being a careless child. The umbrella was the last gift Dee Dee remembers Grandma giving her.
She received another umbrella shortly after from that same family friend, who wanted to make up for the loss to Dee Dee. It was pink and even had her name on it. Dee Dee thought it was nice, but it wasn’t the sunny yellow umbrella from her beloved Grandma. It didn’t take away the grey or the sadness.
It didn’t bring Grandma back the next year like the yellow umbrella could have.