The other day, I found myself thinking back to the days when I visited my grandparents’ house. I lived in a very small town, and they lived just a few blocks away. On sunny days, I’d grab my rope and skip to their house, singing happily the whole way to my grandparents’ home.
Their house had two bedrooms. The larger bedroom had a feather bed. When you laid on it, you sank. Turning over was impossible. One thing was for sure—they were warm and a lot of fun. Homemade quilts covered the beds. On the dresser was a shoe box filled with black-and-white family pictures.
In the winter, a messy coal stove heated the living room. Grandpa was always up by 4 in the morning to get that old stove fired up. He always sat in a rocking chair right by his cuckoo clock. The clock fascinated me. There was nothing I loved more than watching that little bird pop our and cuckoo. An old radio sat by the clock. Over by the other chair was the old rotary-style phone, used for emergencies only. Sometimes, when my grandparents were in the room, I’d pick up the receiver and listen in on the town folks’ gossip. I sure do miss those party lines!
My favorite room was the kitchen. Grandma was always cooking something that awakened your taste buds. Homemade pies lined the windowsill to cool. Grandma would always let me lick the cake batter off of the spoon when she baked a cake. What a delight! Those were some good times! Rows of mason jars lined every pine shelf. The jars were all sizes. Full of corn, jams, jellies, and any kind of bean you can imagine, they were better than anything you could buy in a grocery store today. This was real, home cooking.
The yard had flowers of all kind. The roses and snowballs were the prettiest. A huge tree stood with its branches swaying in the wind. That tree provided shade during hot summer days. There was no such thing as air-conditioning in that house.
Further to the back of the yard was a chicken coop. Sometimes, I helped gather the eggs. Beyond that point was the vegetable garden. The rows were always straight and kept clean of weeds. Grandpa had a man plow the dirt sometime in late February or early March.
Even today, I can remember Grandma in her long apron. Now, back in those days, it was important to keep one’s clothes from getting dirty, because washing was a real chore. Do you remember the old ringer washers? Grandma filled it up with water. Each piece of clothing was hand fed through a ringer to get the soapy water out. Then, they were rinsed in a wash tub and hung on a clothesline to dry. Those clothes would flap in the wind as the sunshine warmed them. After they were dry, I can’t say they were soft. But oh, did they ever smell good!
My Grandpa dressed in his bib overalls and had whiskers. Maybe this detail sticks out in my mind about him more than anything else. He always wanted his grandpa hug, and then he would allow those whiskers to touch my face. Grandpa called that “whiskering.” As I remember it, I called it “uncomfortable.” Now, you know I was always grateful when I met up with Grandpa on a Sunday morning when he’d just shaved.
Today, I am the grandfather. My house is an apartment, and my groceries come from the grocery store. An automatic washer and dryer take care of my laundry. When I make a cake, it comes from a box. My flowers are indoors and made of silk. I buy my pies pre-baked. My grandkids don’t skip a rope to Grandma’s house. They love texting. Most of the time, I see their faces on social media. However, the only thing that has remained the same is the love between grandparents and grandchildren. I just hope that someday, my grandchildren will be able to remember something special about me.
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Originally published April 04, 2023
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