I grew up going to town meetings with Grandma Sue. Every Thursday Grandma would drag me along with her to the meetings. Afterwards, she would always buy me ice cream at Karl's Ice Cream. I loved our time at the ice cream shop, but hated the meetings. But by the time I was old enough to make my own decisions, I couldn't bring myself to tell Grandma that I didn't want to go to the meetings. So I just went along with her.
"Town meetings," Grandma would say, "are the only place that we townsfolk get to share our opinions about the shape of things in this town. It's important that we take the time to do so." And share, she did. Grandma shared her opinions about everything at the meetings. Whether it was the construction of a new park, the clean-up crew after the parade, the cost of school lunches, the new leash law, a curfew for teens, or nominations for new board members, she was always involved. She herself was nominated numerous times for positions on the board, but she always declined the nomination. "Some folks have just gotta stay on the other side of politics," she explained to me, "that's how you keep the town running clean."
Grandma died of a heart attack when I was 22. Her death came as a surprise to us all. The Thursday after her funeral I just couldn't bring myself to go to the town meeting. I stayed home that week, and the next, and before I knew it, months had passed. Then my neighbor told me about the plan for the new supermarket.
She told me that the town had approved a plan to allow a new supermarket to be built on the site of Karl's Ice Cream shop. It meant that Karl's would be torn down! I couldn't bear the thought of losing that precious shop.
That Thursday I went to the meeting. When the plan came up on the docket, I stood to speak.
"I know what Grandma Sue would have said about this plan, and I intend to say it for her. Karl's Ice Cream shop has been a meeting place for town-folk for more than 80 years. My grandmother, and your grandparents, all grew up going to the Ice Cream shop. Parents take their kids there after church, or as a reward for getting good grades. And my Grandma took me there after every one of these town meetings until the day she died."
A couple of people nodded in understanding; all attention was focused on me as I continued.
"Now, aside from the sentimental aspect, there is the thought of what is good for the town. Building a new supermarket would not only shut down Karl's, it would probably put its competition, McGreuger's, out of business, too. It would take away the quaintness that makes this town special. And most important to me, it would make my Grandma Sue turn over in her grave. I don't care how much new profit you think it will bring this town. What about the people here, the atmosphere, and the heart of the town itself? Those are the issues we should be discussing."
As I sat down, everyone applauded. The plan was rejected and Karl's Ice Cream was named an Historical Site.
Ever since then I have viewed it as my job to go to the meetings every Thursday, and "share my opinions about the shape of things in this town," as Grandma would say. But it is still amazing to me that it took Grandma's passing, and the potential destruction of our favorite shop, to get me to take on the responsibility that Grandma had tried to teach me all along.
- What effect did Grandma's death have on the speaker?
- What caused the speaker to take on responsibility?
- Other than Grandma's death, were there other causes in the essay? If so, what were they?