We were blessed yesterday to enjoy a brief visit from two of our grandchildren and their mom. What a joy it was to spend time doing simple things like tossing a tennis ball, blow bubbles, and just hang out. These are the things forever-memories are made of. Our grandson was enthralled with a solar-powered butterfly that was flitting around above my fairy garden.
“Grandma you have cool stuff,” he said as he watched the butterfly dance in the sunshine.
I suppose I do have a few things that a six-year-old might consider to be cool and I’m planning to accumulate even more simple and super-cool things now that we’ll be blessed to have the grands around more often.
My grandson’s comment reminded me of some of the things I once considered cool when we visited my own grandma’s house. Grandma lived a simple life, she never had much money, she didn’t have a special toy box reserved with things for my sister and I to play with when we visited. Neither was she the kind of fun-loving and cuddly grandma I strive to be. In fact, I can’t remember ever receiving a hug from her, I don’t recall that she ever told me she loved me, and I’m certain I never cuddled up to her while she read a story to me.
Still, I have memories of special things from when we visited her at the tiny house where she raised my mom and her siblings by herself. Here’s a sampling:
- The shards of blue glass in her stucco house that my sister and I sometimes plucked out (and were subsequently scolded for when our parents found out.).
- A screen door that had a worn smooth wooden spool for a handle.
- The “thwacking” sound that door made when we didn’t take time to shut it gently (and my dad’s bellowing reminder to us not to slam the door afterward).
- A clear glass rain gauge atop of a wooden pole that held one end of a very long clothesline.
- The stinky, hot, fly infested outhouse that I hated having to use (Admittedly, this isn’t one of the “cool” memories but oddly enough I still consider it a fond memory. Go figure.)
- A rusty old toy stove behind one of the sheds in Grandma’s yard that my mom used to play with as a child.
- A hedge of overgrown who-knows-how-old lilac bushes in the front of the house and a wooden wagon wheel hidden deep within it that I was convinced no one knew about but me
- A tiny twin bed with a soft and sunken mattress in Grandma’s bedroom that my mom slept in when she was a child.
- A cream-coloured plastic bowl grandma filled with water heated in a kettle and set in the sink that didn’t have a drain in order to wash dishes. The “slop” water we carried outside to dump after the chore was completed.
- Grandma’s classic old cook stove.
- The musty earthy smelling cellar that contained an indoor lavatory reserved for use in the cold winter months when a trip to the outdoor outhouse would have been impossible.
- Grandma’s homemade beet relish. I liked it best spread on a slice if buttered white bread.
- Sheer curtains on her bedroom window blowing in the hot summer wind lightly brushing against the old-fashioned tick-tocking clock on her dresser.
- A plethora of brand new never-worn flannel nightgowns that Mom and her sister had given to grandma over the years. We found them in her dresser drawer after she died and I wore those nightgowns myself for many years to come.
- Stairs leading to an attic that we were never allowed to explore. My imagination went wild wondering about the treasures that might be hidden up there. I remember the secret thrill I felt when my sister were finally granted permission to climb those stairs long after my grandma’s death and shortly after my bachelor uncle’s death.
Even though I never felt love from my grandma I enjoyed the time we spent at her tiny house in Benson, Saskatchewan. It anchored me to the past and connected me to family, albeit a family that I shared no blood relation with, they were family nonetheless.
I journeyed back to grandmas house a few years ago. It was literally a shell of what it had once been. Someone had gutted it with plans with grand plans to redo it.
The outside of the structure was similar to how I remembered it but the inside was almost unrecognizable. I was struck with how tiny the space really was and yet as I stepped over and around the demolished ruins I couldn’t help but feel nostalgic about the cool stuff that had once been there, things that now exist only in my memories.
Today, I’m wondering if my own grandchildren will one day have precious memories about some of the cool stuff they discover at my house–things with little or no monetary value but priceless by the memories they evoke. My goal is to make it so.