Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Tuesday Treasures: Grammy's House

Today's TT almost didn't happen.

I wasn't really in the mood; you see, my Grammy died today.

Grammy was my Dad's mom (my Mom's mom died at the beginning of the summer), and it hurts--a lot--because not only did I love her, but it's kind of like losing another piece of my Dad again.

No, I really wasn't in a very good, sharing mood today, until I started to remember going to Grammy's house as a kid, and I realized: there's my treasure. There's my joy.

From the 1930's until just about a month ago, my Grammy lived in the same farmhouse.  My Dad and his four brothers grew up in that house.

Grammy never threw anything away, and I remember my childhood visits to her house being voyages of discovery.

In one room of her dark, spooky basement (a very powerful memory in and of itself) was a huge collection of boy's toys from the 40's, 50's, and 60's. I would spend hours down there, playing with old toys designed to last, being made of metal and wood instead of cheap, easily broken plastic.

Cap pistols that had the look and weight of real, old-West revolvers. Toy cars and trucks that were so heavy, my brother and I actually sustained injuries from hitting each other with them (we're brothers; we're supposed to do that). Rubber-band rifles that shot two-foot-long bands and would leave welts on your victim (again, my brother).

Toys from that era were apparently designed to make kids tougher.

Aside from the basement, I remember huge, home-made country breakfasts and ice cream on hot summer evenings.

Grammy owned a lot of land (it was a working farm when my Dad was little), and I would spend even more hours wandering the fields and woods around her house, letting my imagination go wild.

I became a cowboy. I became a Revolutionary and Civil War soldier. I became Indiana Jones, and the abandoned sheds and foundations of old houses that dotted her property became lost temples containing mountains of treasure and hidden traps galore. I would walk through an empty field and become Jason, fresh off the Argos, or Aragorn, fighting legions of Orcs and living skeletons with sticks that were really swords, slicing their way through the evil monsters I encountered. I became Han Solo on the forest moon of Endor and defeated the Empire countless times.

More often than not, I would return to Grammy's house after these day-long adventures with my pockets full of arrowheads or rusty 19th-century padlocks or dozens of other interesting things I found in the woods, and my Dad and I would sit at her big table and eat ice cream while he told me about some of the treasures he used to find when he was a kid, doing the same things I did.

My Dad taught me to shoot in those fields and woods.

Grammy's house was a great place to be a kid, and I always knew that a visit there would be filled with adventure.

So there are some of my treasures this Tuesday. Treasures that both make the pain of losing Grammy today a little bit sharper and help me feel better.

Grammy had a long, sometimes difficult (she buried two sons, and I hope I never have to know how that feels) but good life. She got to enjoy my kids, and my brother's son.

She loved well, and was well-loved.

Good night, Grammy. I love you.

Thanks for reading my ranting,



  1. Before my gramps died, he and grandma lived in this beautiful house in Florida with a pool and huge grapefruit trees that hung over it. Me and my brother used to climb the trees and pick the fruit when it was ripe, around the same time of year it's too cold to go swimming. They made great climbing trees. And then we would get fresh juice to boot. I'll never forget the smell of citrus and chlorine.

    I think this is one of my only memories of gramps. He didn't say much, but he would watch us. He had lived a hard life from being a bomber pilot during WWII and I imagine from racial tensions since he still looked VERY indigenous from his mother's side. I think his quiet observation of the world is something I've inherited and it's also something that's helped me to deal with the inherit unfairness of the world.

    My point is it's good to know that even when the people we love pass away, they leave something of themselves in us.

  2. Interesting that you mention the smell that ignites your memory, Elliot. Just a little bit ago, I was thinking how every time I get a whiff of that musty, dirt-like cellar-smell, it instantly takes me back to my Grammy's basement.
    Every time.
    Grammy influenced my life in many ways, and one of those will always be my over-developed (according to some) sense of imagination and adventure. So she'll always be with me, every time I use my imagination.

    Thank you, Lydia. Grammy was a beautiful person, and this is the best way I know to share that with others. Even though you never met her, you're now helping to keep her memory alive.

  3. That was a lovely tribute to your Grammy, Brad. So sorry for your loss.

    The smell of sawdust and woodsmoke always makes me miss my grandpa. He practically lived in his "shop" where he built various things and sat by the wood stove in his rocker.

  4. *hugs* :( When I lost my Poppy a few years ago, I lost a best friend.

    This was a very moving post, Brad, and I'm glad you shared it with us.

  5. I don't have any particular smells associated with my grandparents, but when I eat cheesecake, I think of my Papa, even though he's still around. He used to make this awesome cheesecake every time we came up to visit. He doesn't have the energy to make it as often anymore, especially since my grandma can't have any, but even my husband agrees with how great it is.

    Warm regards to you and your family with the loss of your Grammy. An excellent post. What a fabulous way to keep her alive in your memories.

  6. I'm sorry for your loss, Brad :/. But this post really is beautiful and a wonderful tribute.