Sunday, July 17, 2011

Going to Grandma's

There are certain things in life that should never change.

Grandma's house is one of them.

This past weekend we spent Saturday with her.  It was so fun.  She had fried up some chicken and decided it was too dry, so she threw it in her slow cooker hoping to salvage it with a little water added in.  It was actually delicious.  She had peeled potatoes and quartered them and placed them in a pot of water for mashing later on.  This was all by 9:30 am.  She wanted to be able to relax and spend time with us, not work in the kitchen.  I had informed her I was bringing lunch in the form of hot dogs with the fixings so she wouldn't tire herself out before I came.
Apparently I get my "I can do it myself attitude" honestly.

Anyhoo, I still was able to throw together dessert and make a pasta salad.  We sliced some tomatoes and she had some fresh cantaloupe in her fridge, so we decided we had a feast!  I begged her to not let my mother know I was considering a meal complete without a green vegetable,and she readily agreed.  Since my mom reads this blog, my secret's out.  However since Grandma Irene is the same woman who let me eat tomato soup, Totino's pizzas or chocolate cake for every meal, I think she was unconcerned with what my mom would serve.

As she and Studmuffin sat in her lovely living room with the immaculate white couches and red arm chairs, I whipped up dessert.  I listened to her tell Studmuffin and the girls of a particular picture frame that my sister gave her.  Apparently, my cousin took my sister's family picture out and put her kids in it.  Well, when my mom came over, she would change the picture back.  And it would stay until my cousin showed up again, and the cycle began all over.  Grandma decided to put a stop to it.  She stuck a picture of her and Granddad in it.  And it has not been touched since.  You've got to love the wisdom of Grandma.

As I was making dessert and listening to her and my hubby chat, I started thinking about all of the unchanging things at Grandma's house.  I looked around her kitchen and noted the cheery yellow curtains.  They used to be white eyelet, but now that she has painted every surface except her Formica counter tops and back splash yellow, she has changed them out.  I noticed the china tea cups in the corner with the fussy silk flowers arranged around them.  I gazed out at her stately elms flanking her driveway.  They are monstrous and the limbs hang entirely too low to avoid scraping your car roof on them.  But I would be heartbroken if they weren't there.  

I decided to snap some pictures of various things that are as timeless as my Grandma.

There is this lovely wax rose candle, surrounded by more fussy silk flowers on the cabinet above the toilet.

Do you notice the theme in the above picture?  It's pink.  Several years ago, my grandma made my brother paint her bathroom.  She had already painted her entire kitchen yellow (this is after her 85th birthday, mind you) and she decided her bathroom needed sprucing up.  However, before she decided to redo her bathroom she had painted the wood paneling in her front living room yellow, decided she didn't like it and painted over it with white.  She just didn't feel up to whipping out her paint brush again, so she put David to work.  She made him paint every wall, the cabinets, the ceiling and even the doors and trim pink.  He said he was glad he didn't have to paint the door knobs or he may not have found his way out!

Her bathroom is pink now, but if I remember correctly, it was white with pink accents when I was a child.  I just can't picture pink walls when I remember watching my Granddad lather his soap for his morning shave.  I do know this very mirror has always sat on her window sill, along with these very same immaculate white, starched curtains.

See the tweezers?  This window gives the perfect light for plucking one's eyebrows.  I know this for a fact as I began my eyebrow plucking at this very window in this very room with this very mirror.  Not to mention this window provides a lovely view of the elm trees where my cousin and I played endless cowboys and Indians and slew countless dragons, and even discovered our first robin's eggs.

Someday I will have to tell you about the special soup Jason & I concocted out of the lovely stream that runs behind here.  But that is a tale for another day.

Does your grandma have perfect little "Grandma" nick knacks stashed here and there, that you can one day visualize sitting on the shelf at your own home?  My grandma had an adorable Peter Pan figurine.  He sat on top of a green candle on a green pedestal.  I loved to play with Peter.  I thought he was somehow magical because every time I picked him up I had to break him loose of the wax on the candle.  Now I realize that it sat in the sunlight of her picture window, so the wax would warm and hold him firmly in place.  Still, I loved Peter.  Unfortunately, my dad's cousin loved Peter too.  And Grandma gave him to her.  I know of at least 3 other grand daughters who were heart broken to not have Peter at their home some day.

I remember sitting on her lap as a child, sucking my thumb and rubbing the cool skin of her upper arm as she read The Little Engine That Could and Scuffy the Tugboat and even Home for a Bunny five million times.  Sometimes she would try to skip a page.  But I wouldn't let her.  Poor woman, I was grandchild number six, and I am quite sure she was ready for new Little Golden Books by the time I came along.

As we were hugging and kissing and saying our goodbyes she astounded me with an invitation.  She said my girls should come stay with her for a few days.  Because "they are no trouble."  I almost cried.  Oh, for my girls to have memories of building card table houses with blankets.  For them to be able to drag ALL of the cushions off of the couch and stack them with every single pillow in the house to make a fort.  I wonder if she still gets the JCPenney magazine so they could cut out jewelry and tape it on, pretending it's real.  Perhaps she would let them eat nothing but junk food if they wanted as long as they slept in sponge rollers so she could fuss with little girl hair.  I can only imagine their reaction if she labored over their hair, then insisted they wear a head scarf before  going outside so they wouldn't mess up all of her hard work.  I hated that, but I figured chocolate sheet cake for breakfast and pizza for supper every night was a fair trade for wearing a silly old scarf a mile from the nearest neighbor.

I love my Grandma.  I always thought I had the two most beautiful grandmas in the world.  As I've aged, nothing has occurred to change that assessment.  When I was a senior in high school, it was one of Grandma Irene's homecoming years.  A little old lady came up and asked if I was Irene W's granddaughter.  I was confused for a moment as my grandma was Irene J, but I realized that of course this ancient gray haired lady knew her by her maiden name.  I said yes, and she said, "I knew it.  You look just like her."

I can only hope to age with the beauty, wisdom and grace she has shown.  She has loved each of her  family members unconditionally, when there are times I would certainly have washed my hands of some of them.  She has displayed unshakable faith in God and his plan for each of our lives.  Saturday at dinner she said that every year she prays that God will let her air conditioner last one more summer, because she hates to buy a new one that she won't need.  Then the next year, she's still here, and she starts praying all over again.  She is tired of being old.  I told her that I would hate for the alternative.  She looked me dead in the eye and said she has hope in heaven.  I know she does.  I know she will go to a better place.

I just want her here with me.

My grandma.

 I love her.


Dawn said...

'sniff.' We have The Best Grandmas!

Sarah (Castor) Kamolz said...

Well... I cried! Just now! That was precious! Thanks for sharing!!

Anonymous said...

Though I also have alot of memories like that with Grandma Marilyn, My memories with Grandma Irene consist of Sarah and I going into the bedroom connected to the pink bathroom (I only picture it as pink) and taking out her pink and rose colored slippers and pretending we were ballet dancers.

Caitlin said...

Beautiful post Andi! Makes me miss my Gran! Love it that you went through taking photos. I wish that I had taken more photos of my grandparents ridiculous amounts of clutter. It always made us laugh when we left and noted the bit and bobs they considered so special. (Like 40 year old dust coated feathers. I kid you not.) It was a sad day when we packed that house up.

Crazy Sister said...

I'm looking forward to the Decorative Flowers stage of home decor! Beautiful.

Taylor said...

You made me miss my grandmas :(

Marilyn said...

What a beautiful post. I am so proud of your grandma and my other mother. We love her. She has always been such a trooper and set a great example for all of us.