This sweet couple are my grandparents.
All of my life, they’ve lived in their little house filled with art work (they are amazing artists!) and surrounded by gardens and fish ponds- all of their own creation.
Never well off, always just making-do. They’ve created their own fun and kept at their hobbies through the years.
If you were to arrive at their doorstep, and looking down upon the bottom step, to the right, you’d find their names carved in the cement Grandpa poured to build those steps.
At the door, you’d find a half-gate; upon which they often lean their elbows as they wave goodbye to you from their doorway, tears in eyes, smiles on their faces, no matter if you’ve been to visit the day before or five years earlier.
Now, walking into their home, you’d surely be greeted by dogs. One or two or as many as ten or more at times, most rescued from the Humane Society. As the dogs come to greet you, Grandma or Grandpa would be shooing them away, almost tripping over them to get close enough to hug you.
You’d be clasped in Grandma’s arms first, melting into her soft hug and smiling to hear her soft, sweet laugh. (Which has always reminded me of Dolly Parton)
Next, a hug from Grandpa (if you’re a girl) or a warm handshake (if you’re a boy). If you’re me, then you get to hear Grandpa comment on how tall you are and enjoy a few witty jokes while he lets you know in every way how glad he is to see you again.
Walking through their small home, you’ll notice in every bit of space things hand made and carefully created. From their hearth area displaying antiques and wood carvings to the walls and shelves housing paintings and pottery along with family photographs and knicknacks.
Into the kitchen, more of the same and in the cupboards you’re sure to find Grandpa’s thick coffee mugs, his Cheez-It crackers and Grape Nuts as well as Taster’s Choice sitting next to the stove. Grandma is sure to have cottage cheese in the refrigerator and cantaloupe as well.
Before he retired, you would have also found Grandpa’s black lunch box on the counter and in another room, well-worn black workboots waiting for the next day at the mill.
If you stay a bit, you’ll hear stories and jokes and family lore. If you stay longer, you may find yourself into an art project or deep into family genealogy or even yard work.
Back in the day, their yard was a glorious acre of land. Fish ponds and waterfall, every fruit tree you could want, rose gardens and bamboo thickets, a back field Grandpa mowed into a maze for the kids and even a pet cemetery.
If you were a grandchild, back in the day, you’d be enlisted to help plant violets on the cherished pet graves, feed the hungry fish at four O’clock every afternoon, pick ripe golden plums from the towering old trees; eating a bunch as well, with juice dripping down your chin and your belly growing tight, pick raspberries or black caps or even Grandma’s prized Marion and Logan berries the size of your thumb.
You’d be sent to fetch a jar of homemade raspberry jam from Grandma’s cool canning shed and upon returning with the jar, smell the pungent odor of dill harvested from the garden. She’d make you a sandwich, consisting of Wonder bread, Skippy peanut butter and her homemade jam. Nothing on planet Earth tasted better to a grandchild.
Out in Grandpa’s workshop, you’d hear him grinding and sawing, building something or creating knives. (His hobby) Grandpa was also a gymnast as a young man and would sometimes show us his athletic abilities. Grandma was also in great shape and would often have races with us kids, beating us every time.
Outside again, you’d be offered a penny per snail that you disposed of to rid the corn patch of them and later, you’d walk with your nickel or dime or quarter down to the little neighborhood store to spend it on candy.
Along the way, you’d most likely find a can or bottle in the ditch to trade in for the deposit of 5 or 10 cents. Once there, you’d purchase gum for a penny and a bottle of blue Nehi pop for 20 cents along with a 10 cent pack of candy cigarettes.
You’d walk back to the house with your brother, sister and cousins, relishing over the treats, pretend-smoking your candy cigarettes and soaking up the summer weather. Ready to run through the sprinkler in the back yard or watch an old black and white scary movie with Grandma.
At Halloween, you might be enlisted to help get their yard ready with spooky, hand painted, glow-in-the-dark headstones, wooden caskets, rubber skeletons and a mummy. Your aunt would dress up as a witch and greet trick-or-treaters at the door or while stirring a steaming cauldron of apple cider.
Your own skin would crawl with each recorded scream on the spooky record Grandma played again and again. (Even though you knew it by heart)
You’d be fed a hot dinner of delicious beef stew or spanish rice with a slice of buttered bread and a glass of milk.
Never allowed to go trick-or-treating until you first finished that dinner.
At Thanksgiving, you’d enter the house- warm with a wood fire and the smell of turkey in the oven. You’d see the little house fill up to capacity and then some with relatives of all ages. Even some who were technically no longer family by marriage. In-laws and outlaws always welcome.
You’d wander throughout the house, hovering over a variety of conversations, jumping in when it felt right. A smile on your face and contentment in your heart as you looked upon your loved ones and felt all was right in the world.
In the kitchen you’d find Grandpa basting the turkey, getting the skin deep brown and nicely crisp on top. A couple of grandkids hovering nearby with hopes of a small piece of that skin when the turkey is carved.
Grandma giving directions on making the fruit salad to the group deseeding the grapes and slicing the bananas. She would be peeling potatoes, along with Mom while talking and laughing over numerous things. Smells, smiles, conversations, babies, hugs and a warm cozy feeling winding its way through the house. Magic!
I will leave you here, dear reader, to soak up some of the contentment of my childhood. There are so many more memories to share, but these are simply wonderful.
That little house, that sweet, sweet couple fill my mind and heart with precious memories. Their home feels like love to me.