Saturday, September 23, 2006

Grandma's House

Grandma's House has always been - and always will be - a special place for me. It is a place where there is always love and laughter and a full cookie jar. When I was little, it was a place where I was always listened to and treated with love and kindness - especially by Grandma. The memories I have of my Grandma will last my entire life. Grandma could make everything alright, no matter what the problem was. Whether it was solving a conflict, kissing a scraped knee, soothing hurt feelings, or calming a grandchild who got scared of the dark, she always knew exactly what to do to set things aright. She has been the perfect example of the virtuous woman, and has always fulfilled her God-given roles with constancy and grace. She has provided a model of Biblical womanhood for every young woman of her acquaintance to follow.

When I was little, my grandparents lived just down the road from us. (Currently, they - my paternal grandparents - are about a half hour drive away.) Staying at Grandma's House was always a special occasion for my siblings and me. I remember that they used to drive the three of us up to one of our favorite restaurants, the "Old Country Buffet," which was quite a little distance away. After a fantastic dinner of mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, and the revolting - but required - vegetable, we would tour the pet store, my sister and me ooh-ing and ahh-ing over the cute little bunny rabbits. My brother, as usual, was enthralled with the snakes, toads, and turtles. Then would come the long trip back to Grandma's House. Grandma's patience throughout all of our chatterings in the backseat was remarkable! A gentle reminder from her generally sufficed to restore order on the frequent occasions that our voices grew, in our excitement and sometimes conflict, to inappropriate levels.

During the after-dinner hours, after helping Pop building a nice fire with newspaper and kindling - for some reason, that memory is especially vivid - we built forts behind Pop's "big chair" while he watched Fox News. We would eat ice cream and watch the continuous trail of little black ants that went up and down Grandma's kitchen wall by the clock. We could never seem to get rid of those ants, and they became a hallmark of Grandma's House.

In later days, evening violin, piano, and cello concerts given by us characterized these visits. Special requests from Pop always included "Amazing Grace," "Red River Valley," "The Yellow Rose of Texas," "Danny Boy," "Shenandoah," and "Ashokan Farewell." Grandma's all-time favorite was "It Is Well With My Soul."

Bedtime always came all too quickly, and we would change into our nightgowns behind doors whose locks never worked. After brushing our teeth with Grandma's strange-tasting toothpaste, we would climb into the ivory-colored old bed in my aunt's old room and Grandma would sing to us. This is without a doubt my all-time favorite memory: my sister and me lying in bed, staring out the dark window at the river and marsh, and Grandma's voice singing the words of the old hymn, "Throw out the lifeline, throw out the lifeline: someone is sinking today." Today, this image is just as vivid as if it were from yesterday.

Breakfasts were always royal affairs at Grandma's House. We would help her combine the ingredients of the mix for her famous fluffy pancakes, making more of a mess in that process than she could ever have made on her own even if she had been trying. Sifting the flour onto the wax paper that Grandma always used to pour it into the bowl was a favorite assignment. Then the three of us and Pop would sit down at the breakfast table while Grandma cooked and served her delicious pancakes. They were small, only about 3 inches in diameter. We would consume these pancakes, with the fabulous maple syrup that was to be had only at Grandma's House, at an amazing pace. Fifty pancakes and an hour later, it was time to play fort in Grandma's living room with our stuffed animals. Sometimes Grandma joined us in this occupation, but many times she would sit and watch us play or go about her household duties.

Helping Grandma make her renowned pecan pie was another favorite activity. Grandma's pecan pies always graced the table at every family dinner and get-together. Even at birthday dinners, we had pecan pie. We would stick candles in the top of the pie, making it a perfect birthday cake. I now have her recipe written down (she always made pecan pies from memory) and nicknamed "Granny's Famous Pecan Pie."

Washing days at Grandma's House were especially exciting. After waiting for the washing machine to finish, we would load the wet clothes into a laundry basket and carry it out to the backyard. Grandma had a clothes line out there, which was something quite novel and intriguing to my sister and me. Those wooden clothes pins fascinated us, and it was a rare pleasure for us to importantly hang up wet clothes on that high line that required a stool in order for us to reach it. I am sure that we ruined Grandma's work on many a load of laundry, and that it was necessary for her to wash some of those loads a second time, but she was always her cheerful, unruffled self! Later in the day, it was time to bring the clothes down from the line, which we would do while Grandma carefully folded them.

As I've stated before, Grandma's backyard overlooked the marsh and a river. Along the edge of the river, in between it and the backyard, there was thick pluff mud. In this mud lived hundreds of fiddler crabs. We always loved to sneak up to the edge of the yard and peer down at the mud. As soon as our little faces appeared over the edge, every one of those fiddler crabs would make a bolt for their holes. It took awhile for them to venture out after that, and we were always on hand to send them scurrying for security once again.

But I'm forgetting the porch swing that hung on Grandma's screened-in back porch, overlooking the marsh. We would swing there with Grandma by the hour, talking, reading, and laughing. Now, when I visit Grandma, I love to go down and swing with her on the porch swing on their back deck, overlooking the marina by which they now live. (Pop has always had to live near the water.) The conversations we have together there are so meaningful and wonderful! Although I don't get this opportunity as much as I'd like, I am confident that these back-porch trysts with Grandma will remain ingrained in my heart and mind forever.

Yes, the memory of visits to Grandma's House will always hold a treasured place in my heart. But it wasn't the food or the play or the activities that made Grandma's House so dear to me. It was special because Grandma was there. Talking with Grandma, playing with Grandma, cooking with Grandma, reading with Grandma, working with Grandma ... all the time, her sweet, kind, selfless, loving attitude shone through.

Today, it is often difficult to get a chance to spend a weekend at Grandma's house. But I value every moment passed with Grandma. I can talk with her, and she listens and responds with insightful bits of wisdom. She takes a genuine interest in every aspect of my life. Grandma's godly character glows unceasingly, and it is manifest in whatever circumstances she finds herself. God grant that one day I may be just like my Grandma!

1 comment:

Alisa said...

Beautiful.

"Psa 111:10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do His commandments: His praise endureth for ever."