Friday, July 15, 2011

"She served 'til it hurt . . ."

From the archives of my former blog--July, 2008

Grandma's Attic painting, here
I miss Grandma's old house.  Well, I miss all my grandparents, the actual people, more than their homes.  But I find myself thinking a lot about Grandma H.'s old house once again.  Summer always does that to me.  Christmas makes me think of Grandma K.'s.  Next time I'll talk about Christmas.  Christmas in July--why not?!  :)

Anyway, Grandpa and Grandma H lived in this old, old house, which still had some of the original toile wallpaper in one of the rooms.  It was sooooo cool!  Looking back, I realize it wasn't a very large house, but it seemed huge at the time.  There was a wonderful wrap-around porch in front, complete with a porch swing.  In the back of the house was an enclosed porch, with a cement floor.  I remember a big, beautiful wooden cupboard, where Grandma stored her canned goods, and a HUGE roll of aluminum foil, from which she would cut smaller pieces as she needed them.  Also, the back porch contained a large terra cotta pot,.  In the pot was a bunch of dirt and Grandpa's pipe!  I don't remember him ever smoking it, but I'm guessing he did from time to time.  I can still remember how that porch smelled--old, musty, with a hint of pipe tobacco

These are photos of photos, from several years ago.

The family room actually had the original curtain in the extra-wide doorway, separating it from a downstairs bedroom, which was likely once the front parlor.  In a family room closet were Grandma's toys.  Oh, how my sisters and I loved to drag out those toys.  They were the BEST!  There were play dishes, dress-up clothes, a plastic badminton set, wonderful old books, you name it.  I have a few of those books now and my parents have many of the toys, for their grandchildren to play with.  It brings a lump to my throat when I see the old coffee pot, cups and saucers, and dress-up clothes now.

The attic--my favorite!  When you walked up some enclosed stairs, you ended up in the attic, which was divided into three sections.  The first section was the area we played in sometimes.  There were stacks of old National Geographics, sewing patterns, and books, all neatly piled against the wall, so there was plenty of room to play.  The closed-off section was unfinished and didn't have much in it, other than an occasional raccoon who might try to make a home for his family!  I only remember seeing that part once, when Grandma had that door open.  The third area of the attic was a bedroom.  There were two twin beds, a dresser and a WONDERFUL window to spy on the kids across the street.  Sometimes we would yell things at them, and they looked around, wondering where the voices were coming from.  It was awesome!

I grew up in suburban Chicago and my grandparents all lived in central Ohio.  So it wasn't like we could spend a day at Grandma's once a week or anything.  It was only a few times a year.

On the porch swing, my sisters and I would see how high we could get it to go, when the grown-ups weren't looking, of course.  We also jumped off the porch, without using the steps, just to prove we could.  It seemed so high at the time!  Behind the swing, was some kind of a viney plant, in which birds built nests to lay their eggs.  It was so sad to see little blue, broken eggs on the ground sometimes.

On the side of the house was a cellar,  I never went in there, but we loved to climb up the sloping door.  Why, it was a mountain after all, wasn't it?  Until Grandpa, whose chair was right by the window over the cellar, warned us to get down from there.  We always tried again, though, even though we knew if he was sitting in his chair, reading his paper, his reprimand would be coming through that window.

Grandpa's window, above the cellar door.

There were stone paths in different places all over the property, just right to pretend you were a beautiful bride, strolling down the aisle.  Or that you were a detective, following someone's trail.  Many Nancy Drew stories were acted out in those days!

The creek that ran along side their property was so quaint and lovely.  Ah, the daydreaming that took place by the sparkly, quiet water!  There was a rickety bridge over it when I was little, which we were not to cross.  It was replaced later and all was well.  I do remember one time when the creek was dry, my friend Lisa and I were playing detectives down in the creek bed and along the rocky bank.  When we went in for lunch, Grandpa made a comment about watching out for snakes in the creek.  That was the end of that!

The creek looks much different than I remember it--not as deep and rocky.  :)

Grandma's house is where I remember hearing my first mourning dove.  I believe I was sitting by an open window in the attic and heard that woefully beautiful song.  The gentle breeze moving the gauzy curtain--and my hair--was so comforting.  Weeks later, back at home in my own quiet backyard, I heard the sound again.  Did that dove follow me home?  Not likely, but I was young enough at the time to think it was a possibility.  Ever since, I have thought of Grandma's house whenever I hear a mourning dove.  I love that sound!

Grandma was a gentle, loving person who would do anything for anyone.  People used to tell her to stop doing so much for others.  I guess by worldly standards, she didn't put herself first nearly enough.  I used to think that was true, just because I heard so many people tell her that.  But now I see she had the right idea.  We are such babies!  We want to "serve" when it's convenient, comfortable, and well-noticed.  Grandma served 'til it hurt, like Jesus did.

There was a lot she could have chosen to feel sorry for herself over.  And no one would have blamed her!  But she chose life abundant.

Her gardens--oh, her gardens!  The flowers, the vegetables, the grapevines . . . she loved it all.  And I loved to work beside her, whether weeding a flower bed, or snapping beans on the porch swing.  I can't smell a scallion (green onion, spring onion--whatever they call it in your region!) without thinking of Grandma's vegetable garden.  Mmmmm. . . love that sharp, pungent aroma!

I remember lying in the soft grass, looking up at the clouds, hearing my mourning doves and the wind rustling through the grass and trees, smelling those green onions 'til I could practically taste them!  My senses were alive and I now believe that childhood should have plenty of those kinds of moments.  Times where there's no stimulation around you, other than the purity of God's creation.  There's so much to experience and enjoy, just in God's lovingly-made natural forms.  I watched TV as a kid, but I'm so glad for the majority of my time being outside, or reading books, or using my imagination.  Those are priceless memories that many future adults won't have had!

Grandma fueled my imagination with her stories of riding in a horse-drawn buggy to her one-room schoolhouse as a young girl (which she really did--she'd be at lest 100 years old if alive today), and meeting my grandpa at the county fair and stuff like that.  I loved her stories.  I wish she had written them down. 

The world would seem so chaotic to Grandma by now, I suppose.  It seems chaotic to me.  When I can't even let my child go outside unsupervised, like when I was a kid, or I am accused of being a racist because I don't support a certain presidential candidate (yes, this actually happened to me yesterday! I'm definitely the wrong person to try that tactic on--give me a break!), or I hear about Christians possibly being hushed from the airwaves . . . I know the world has grown colder, less safe, and more chaotic since my childhood.

But God, the God of Grandma and the God of me, is still the same.  Always has been, always will be.  Amen and amen.  :)

1 comment:

  1. and Amen! I grew up in Ohio and my grandparents were all in Wisconsin, thanks for the trip down memory lane.


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