My parents and I went to see Grandma last weekend. One part of the day included walking around her property, and the memories from all my life came flooding back.
There's the workbench in the basement where I "helped" Grandpa build some contraption from PVC pipe. He was always inventing something.
There's the freezer in the basement--an ancient behemoth that's actually pretty cool--which was always filled to the brim, and always had ice cream in it. Ice cream is a running, generational theme in our family.
There's where the washer and dryer used to be connected before a main-level laundry area was added.
There's the pool table where my brother beat me at the game every time, but I still had fun. Oh, and the little dairy refrigerator that used to be in Grandma's kitchen before she remodeled it.
The stairs going back up still have the same creaks and noises. And a little string of bells is hanging just at the opening of the basement steps.
There's the brightly colored light in the entry, all the sides filled in with stained glass.
There's the fireplace where, on so many cold nights, a bright fire blazed and crackled cheerily. And the Christmas and winter decorations stayed up long after Christmas was over. They just seemed right through the dreary winter months when the snow was still piled high on the ground and the cardinals came out to say hello at her sliding glass door.
Grandpa's chair used to be over in that spot where Grandma's chair now stands. He used to play at catching us with his cane. We used to sit in his chair--when our hineys were small enough that several of us fit at the same time--then giggle when he would pretend not to see us as he started to sit down.
There's the quilt that hangs on the wall, with bright yellow hues, made by one of the ladies in our family. There are baskets made by my aunt.
There's the candy stash in the family room cabinets. We always had a circus peanut and orange slice before leaving Grandma's house.
There are the books in the built-ins. There is the furniture where we all sat for lively conversation next to the brown brick of the fireplace wall.
There's the painting of my grandpa on the wall where Grandma, and all of us, can see him always.
There's the dining table where Grandma was careful to set her beautiful dishes, beautifully arranged, and we all learned to pass the food the right direction and wait for the hostess to be seated and take a bite.
There's her large metal tray that she used to transport dishes between the kitchen and dining room. The lively design on the tray is mostly worn off, but I remember how it looked.
There's the clock, the large, oak grandfather clock, which chimes every fifteen minutes. I always think pleasantly of Grandma and Grandpa when I hear the chiming of a clock.
There's the kitchen. Grandma used to shoo everyone out because she liked to do things just her way. What a privilege it was when I was finally allowed to help her.
She had a fake brick wall by her gas stove and a mirror hanging behind the stove; there was a roll-around dishwasher that she would hook up to her sink. There were bright red, yellow, and blue skillets hanging on her wall for decoration. I have those now.
The living room: that's where I spent many mornings with Grandma reading the Bible and praying with her while we both sipped on coffee from Lenox Christmas mugs.
There's the coffee table where I accidentally left a water ring once, and Aunt T showed me how to put salt on it to soak up the mark--and it worked! (Grandma, if you're reading this, take it as my confession now that the statute of limitations is past!)
There was a marble chess game set up that I never learned to play, but my brother did. He doesn't lose games.
There's the brown-patterned velvet sofa that has been in the same spot for as long as I can remember. There's the bay window which provides a good view of the front to see who is pulling up to the house. At Christmastime, it holds a creche made by Grandma's sister.
There's the lighted curio cabinet that still holds pretty little marble, crystal, and porcelain pieces.
There's the room next to the living room where Grandpa used to have a computer set up. We would make "Happy Birthday" banners to print out on the accordion-style paper with the holes on the sides.
Grandpa had his HAM radio equipment set up there. W9DLN was his call sign.
There's the front door where I always remember Grandma and Grandpa standing to wave to us as we pulled away from a visit with them.
There used to be massive trees near the road that still are there in my mind's eye every time I pull up to Grandma's house.
There's the white, wooden fence that is only surrounding portions of the backyard now. There's the big bell that came from the family farmhouse in Illinois.
There's the brick walk and patio my dad made for Grandma.
There are the irises my Grandma always loved, and the hostas. The apple trees. She made the best applesauce. Well, so did my other grandma. Each was a little different from the other, but delicious!
There used to be a swing and a grapevine all under the canopy of a massive oak tree. I think it was oak. Maybe it was maple.
There's the barn, and chicken coop, and the old garage. It's all cleared out again, thanks to the hard work of Mr. P. That's where Tony the pony used to live. We rode him when we were little.
Grandpa used to take us for rides on his lawn tractor.
The smelly pop-up camper used to be parked over by the new garage. Our family used it a few times. To this day, whenever I smell that slightly musty smell, I think of camping and the pastel-colored, plastic cups Grandma stashed in the camper that we would use for hot chocolate at the end of a long camping day. Of course, we had marshmallows on top.
What other memories? Grandma's homemade ice cream, her pies, her cookies, her cinnamon-applesauce Jell-O; the smell of the house.
If you could put love in a perfume bottle, it would smell like her house. If you could record the sound of love, it would be what those house walls have heard over the years of family gatherings.
What else? The huge roll of wrapping paper that was used for every gift for as long as I can remember. It turns out, it was a roll meant to wrap whiskey, but to my 5-year-old self, it was just pretty wrapping paper.
All through Grandma's house are memories and mementos of special people in her life. She loved others well, and in return, has been well-loved.
During any difficult time of life, she has always had life-giving words to steer me back to God and gratefulness in my thinking, and a reliance on the timing of God's work in my life.
A visit with her is sure to include her comments of how incredibly blessed she is and how the Lord has provided for her. I've never once seen her exhibit bitterness or resentment in her attitude.
As her physical capabilities diminish with age, she has turned evermore to the Giver of Life as her source of strength, and she has the longest prayer list I've ever seen.
A visit with Grandma now doesn't include anymore her swatting a wooden spoon at little hands going where little hands shouldn't go. She won't be making her famous custard-based ice cream anymore. Those things happen in my memories.
But there is just as much love as there ever was in the visit with Grandma.