The House That Love Built
Many of my fondest childhood memories were spent at my grandmother's house. We visited nearly every Sunday after church and were often privileged to spend a night with Gram every once in a while. Gram spoiled us rotten. We were always greeted with a smile, a big hug, and some kind of wonderful deliciousness from the kitchen. I can still smell the aroma that is my Grandma's house. Gram kept our favorite sodas cold in her little closet, our most desired cereals in the cupboard, and the candy bowl full of our favorite treats. My sister swears Gram made the best toast. I believe it. Everything she made was the best. I remember we used to compete with each other, who could eat the most waffles. We would put away 8, 9, 10 waffles each. I have no idea how in the world we could eat so many waffles, but we did, along with crispy bacon and the most delicious sausage. Gram let us stay up late and watch TV shows our parents would never let us watch; like Alice, Happy Days, and Lavern and Shirley. She also let us wake her up at the crack of dawn so she could make our Honey Combs for us just the way we liked them. Gram was a librarian by profession and often gave us the best books to read or treated us to trips to the library. She taught us to play Cribbage and Yahtzee. She let us run free in the neighborhood parks and gardens. We spent endless hours climbing her plum tree and wandering around her beautiful garden. Family and tradition were paramount. Gram was and is a treasure.
On my visit home earlier this month, we took a little trip up to visit her house. I wanted to take some pictures as keepsakes of the wonderful memories we have from our times there. My grandmother and grandfather built this house in the 1940s. They were working on it as World War II raged. It is a very modest house with only two small bedrooms, a living room that served double duty as the dining room, a tiny kitchen, and a single bathroom. Funny, we never realized how small her house was. It was warm and cozy and filled with her love. My grandmother raised her two boys in that small house after my grandfather unexpectedly passed away when my father was still a baby. Grandpa must have been the love of her life. She never remarried and she never told us stories about him, until just recently. The memories from that part of her life were too painful. She poured her love into her sons and then into their children and now into our children. To know her is to love her.
This is the house love built. It will be forever ingrained in my memory with absolute fondness.
This is just a small section of the garden Grandma tended with so much love and care. I recall having a near constant harvest in the spring, summer, and fall. Asparagus, strawberries, raspberries, tomatoes, peas, corn, potatoes, squash, kohlrabi, turnips, beets, and more. The garden wasn't just utilitarian, it was also incredibly beautiful and filled with flowers of every kind; dahlias, poppies, lilacs, gladiolas, daffodils, marigolds, etc.
This is the son of the great plum tree we used to climb as children. My brother stupidly fell out the plum tree and broke his collar bone while he was trying to retrieve a fallen donut. I laughed and laughed as he lay there crying. We were so cruel to each other, and yet this memory will make us all laugh when we re-tell the story to our children.
This is the skeleton of a "Money Plant"; green in the spring, the flat pods turn a silvery color in the fall and look almost like silver dollars. We used to pretend we were rich as we collected endless pods to take home with us.
The once demure little pussy willow has grown into a huge tree. I was shocked when I saw it again on this trip. I was ecstatic to see the same little willow buds on the trees gracing the front yard of our new house here in Utah.
The siding on the house is fading and peeling, and yet still so lovely.
I snapped this photo of the house number and laughed to see the new fangled low energy bulb set in the mid 20th century light fixture.
I didn't snap photos of the interior. It was too strange and sad. The life and light have gone out of the house. Those pictures will have to remain only in memories of bygone days, of childhood happiness and peace, and of the love radiated by the singular woman who once lived there.