Friday, February 28, 2014

Grandma's house

The house was torn down last week, and I didn’t even know it was coming. Not that it matters, really. Grandma and Grandpa have been gone for years now.

Yet it is strange to have a place in my memory with such vivd colors that no longer exists. That land will now support condominiums, not rose bushes and little girls running barefoot and drinking from the hose. I remember the delicious plastic flavor of the first sips from a hot hose.

It’s odd: the fragrance of roses makes me want to eat raspberries, because they grew near each other in her yard. I would pick an enormous bowl of berries, then eat them all, staining my fingers and mouth red.  I do not recall sharing them, ever.

I remember how mom would walk around the yard with her mom, to see the flowers growing, commenting on the lovely blooms while holding her arm to keep her steady. And writing this makes me realize that I have not made much time for flower-viewing walks in my mom’s yard. I’d better make time for that, before they, too, are buried by condominiums.

I remember hiding in grandma’s shoe closet, and sliding down the banister. Did my mom actually let me do that, or did I sneak? I cannot recall, but there are no guilty feelings mixed with that memory.

Grandma always had parakeets, and I loved watching them, hearing them sing.

I remember being half-asleep, being carried down the cement steps and into the car, on the nights grandma would watch me, when my mom worked late.

I do not remember much of my grandfather. Our lives intersected only briefly. He died when I was two.  I can picture him in the kitchen, and almost hear is voice. And I remember my mom hugging my dad in our kitchen when he died. But that is all.

I remember the soft, cool skin of grandma’s arms around me, sitting on her lap in an aluminum chair on the back patio. I was a distracted teenager when she faced her final illness. I wish I would have spent more time in those arms.

But it is good to go back to her house in my memory. It is good to try to recall myself as a child, to remember what it was like when life was about playing and eating snacks and riding my big wheel. It wasn’t perfect, of course, and as I look back with my big-girl eyes on my little girl days, the memories are filled with love, and longing, and an occassional whiff of cigarette smoke.

I think I’ll plant my own flowers this year.


“Show me, Lord, my life’s end

    and the number of my days;
    let me know how fleeting my life is.
You have made my days a mere handbreadth;
    the span of my years is as nothing before you.
Everyone is but a breath,
    even those who seem secure.
“Surely everyone goes around like a mere phantom;

    in vain they rush about, heaping up wealth
    without knowing whose it will finally be.
“But now, Lord, what do I look for?

    My hope is in you.
Psalm 39


Do you remember your grandparents’ home?

What was it like? Where is it now?

For my family: more memories in the comments.

Will you leave me a few of your own, pretty please?

chair photo credit: ebay 


  1. lillies of the valley by the sidewalk
    White lace curtains in the living room
    Tangled christmas lights
    Metal chairs (aluminum?)
    Flower beds, pansies ant plants
    The alley and coit school and “the coloreds.”
    The washer and dryer in the kitchen- I wonder if they were always there or if they moved up there when she was too old to use the basement stairs?
    Bathroom smelling like rose
    The nativity set in the fancy dining room
    Soft couches (what was that material called?)
    The accordion wall that separated her bedroom from the dining room
    The shoe closet- a great place for hiding
    Rowdy games of spoons with the Pat and Otto and kids
    Christmas FOOD and noise and family
    The smell of cigarette smoke
    The mysterious attic
    The small room with the clutter, plus 2 bedrooms upstairs where I would sleep sometimes
    (I wonder how they had 5 kids in there growing up?)
    Grandma never drove, but she walked to the hospital to volunteer
    The alley
    Riding my bike on the sidewalk (I think Grandma had a big wheel there for me.)

  2. Your grandpa Howard's 13 inch black-and-white TV set in the kitchen.
    The old bench behind the chestnut tree
    The crooked cement path behind the petunias to the shed
    The Pear tree
    Sitting out back on the patio

    1. yes I remember that path! The pear tree... where was that? Was it cut down along the path eventually, or was that th echestnut tree?

      chirping parakeets!
      lace all over the place- curtains, the fancy dining room, etc
      the tall skiny christmas tree with the fragile ornaments
      eating lots of orange jello at christmas
      mom finding half-washed coffee cups in the cupboard


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