Grandma’s Cool Stuff

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.


I’m a writer, reader, and creative. I thought by now I’d have things figured out, but I keep coming up with more questions. I think that’s okay. I’m here most mornings pondering ordinary things and the thin places where faith intersects.
  1. Your photo of your fairy garden definitely caught my attention! I’ve made 2 this last spring with my 7 year old granddaughter. It was so much fun that I went out & purchased a few more fun fairy items so I can make one or two for my own backyard. And it might create a memory for her as well as my other grand kids when they visit, as you described so well. I also really enjoyed your mention of the staircase to the attic that you were never allowed to visit–it conjured a possible story in my imagination. I wonder if you might have one there too. 🙂

    1. The fairy gardens are so whimsical and magical, aren’t they? I like to add a piece or two to mine every year. Glad that the attic stairs ignited an idea for a story, Kas!

  2. “Grandma you have cool stuff” I would regard as high praise from a grand-son. The fairy garden is charming and very “in” right now. And you have amassed an amazing number of visual, auditory, and olfactory details. Wow!

    Interesting twist to a nostalgic topic. Thanks, Linda.

    1. I consider it high praise, indeed! Thanks for stopping by, Marian!

  3. What fun stuff you have listed here. I was reminded of all the times us kids slammed the door…”Were you raised in a barn?!” That’s what Mom or Aunt Agnes would yell. You brought some fun memories for me – thank you!

    1. Isn’t it fun to think back on those early, and simpler, times, Karen? Glad to have prompted some special memories for you too.

  4. I loved this post. It reminded me of my Grannyma. My mom remarried three months after my father died and moved us to a new city three hours away from her. As I was growing up I spent one week a year with her in her tiny little house. But I remember everything about it…the smells, the drawer where she kept the cookies, the fig tree in the back yard. the smell of her rose powder she kept on a high counter in the bathroom, the miniature Christmas tree in the gable window. Such sweet memories. I’m not sure I’m going to get grandkids, but I would create a fairy garden if I did. On second thought, maybe I’ll create it and they will come.

    1. What a gift–for both you an your Grannyma–to have that special time together every year. I bet that memories were created that delighted both of you when you were not together. And the fairy garden? I say go ahead and create one that you can enjoy for yourself! That’s what I’ve done for the past few years before we lived closer to the grands. It’s a little piece of whimsy that brings joy to me every time I look at it. You should do it!

      1. I love the idea of the fairy garden. Can you give me ideas as to how to start?

        1. I bought some small ground cover plants–I think they were marketed as “Steppables” but really anything would do–thyme would be a good one. I wanted a special container so planted them in a half-barrel and added some smooth rocks for a little path. I purchased a couple of little fairies at a garden show (I think many nurseries have them now) and have added a thing or two every year. A fun thing that I plan to do, but haven’t yet, is to play around with making little benches and things for them. Just let your imagination play!

  5. Better to have left yourself with your enchanting childhood memories of you Grandma’s house, perhaps.

    I’m happy you get to enjoy your grandchildren. Sounds like your move suits you well.

    1. Yes, perhaps you’re right, Christine. Still, I love the place regardless of the state it’s in. Thanks so much for stopping by!

  6. Somehow your grandmother and her home conveyed love to you even if she didn’t use any of the overt words or actions. Otherwise you wouldn’t remember your time with her as being so special. I find that fascinating, Linda.

    I’m inspired to do a fairy garden, as your other readers are. The start is a group of “hen & chicks” I planted by the deck steps. My granddaughters are fascinated by these plants. It would be easy to add to the enchantment. Thanks for the idea.

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