You look at my grandmother’s house and it doesn’t look like much. A simple two bedroom, one bath bungalow settled a few short blocks from my own house. To an outsider, one would look at it, shrug their shoulders and say, “It’s OK.”
But trust me, this house was so much more than OK.
This is the house that I would go to every day after kindergarten. My grandfather would pick me up from school in his old white pick up and off to the house we’d go where Grandma Evie would be making me a sandwich, or if I was lucky, her fried macaroni. (Yes, fried macaroni is a thing and it was delicious! I still crave it from time to time.)
Grandma and my mom had an obsession with Days of Our Lives. We’d have to watch it before I could watch my more kid-friendly shows. I grew up knowing the DiMera/Brady family drama. Although I haven’t watched it in years, every time I come across it I will stop for a minute and just smile at how nothing has changed.
This is the house where I tripped over her cat, Kitty, and cut my lip on the front step for my first round of stitches when I was six years old. I can still remember running into the house to tell my grandma and while she called my mom I stared at myself in her bedroom door mirror, pushing my tongue against my lip to make my cut open wider. I was six. It was fascinating! You can still see my scar.
That cat, Kitty. I was disappointed she didn’t have a better name for the poor cat so one day, when I was older, I asked my grandma why she named the cat “Kitty”. “Well,” she said, “I can’t yell ‘son-of-a-bitch’ out the window.” I about spit my drink out; she had the best sense of humor!
This is the house that we crammed almost 50 people into on holidays. I’m still not sure how everyone was able to fit in there. That house couldn’t have been more than 800 square feet. Relatives would spill into her enclosed porch or be asked to go into the basement. That dreaded basement. I hated going down there by myself. It was cold, dark, and dank with a stale smell.
This is the house was where I got mad at my cousin and went to punch him, hitting the front door window instead when he moved to the side at the last minute. I still have those scars, too.
This is the house where i tripped and fell on top of my grandmother’s record player and cut my leg. Yet another memory scar of her home.
This is the house I’d go with my dad to Saturday morning coffee with Grandma. For a kiss, she’d let me have a Milky Way out of the bottom kitchen drawer. We’d sit at the kitchen table and play Rummy together or I’d watch her play Solitaire. Sometimes I’d drag out her old photo albums and we’d look through them while I’d ask questions and she’d tell stories.
This is the house where we watched the Huskers win the 1994 National Championship. The beginning of the game was so horrible, my dad threw his Nebraska hat on the ground and stomped on it, ready to throw his Husker loyalty out the window. My uncle vowed to never watch a game with him again. We find it hilarious now as he’s mellowed out over the years of subpar seasons and no championship in sight.
This house was my first job. I took over the cleaning and mowing of Grandma’s house once my sisters moved on to college. She’d sit at her kitchen table or pink rocking chair, playing Solitaire, crocheting, or doing her crossword puzzles. When she walked across the room she would gracefully toss her house robe aside without missing a step. It was beautiful to me. She was beautiful.
As I got older, I didn’t visit the house as much. I became too busy with activities or was just a teenage brat. How I wish I could’ve changed that. I wish I could’ve had better, longer conversations with her. I would be annoyed at times when Dad forced me to go down to clean or mow but now I am so grateful for that time. If I didn’t have that access to her, if I didn’t have that responsibility to take care of that little house and yard, I probably wouldn’t have visited as often or gotten to know Grandma Evie the way I did.
Now her house has sold. It’s been over a decade since Grandma Evie passed away but her house was always “her house”. It was still part of the family. With it being sold, that last big piece of Grandma is gone, making this the final goodbye. What any of us wouldn’t give for one more game of Rummy. Of one more episode of Days of Our Lives. Of one more cup of coffee. Or even one more scar.
All we have are the memories.
Now someone else will make memories in that little house. The greatest hope is that they take care of it. That they respect the memories that it holds and appreciate it enough to make it a home.
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