I grew up with the blessing of knowing my great-grandmother. Every Thursday was G.G.’s day. She would pick me up from the babysitter and as we would pull up the steep driveway in her baby blue coupe, we would sing our original song to the tune of the Muffin Man,
“Here we are at G.G.’s house, at G.G.’s house, at G.G.’s house.”
I would spend all afternoon playing or learning new crafts like decoupage or cross-stitch. Eventually, she would sit in her rocking chair and pat her knees for ‘lap time.’ I would crawl into her arms and we would exchange secrets and stories that covered the decades of age gap between us. She became the one I would run to when I got into a fight with a parent, or felt lonely, or needed advice. G.G. always had the wisdom I needed to hear.
Later my parents would arrive and we could cross the threshold from G.G.’s mother-in-law suite into Jackie & Grampa’s home where Jackie had prepared us dinner. I’m ashamed to admit that in my picky childhood I took for granted her home-cooked meals and she would prepare me noodles à la Lipton. We would all sit, with Jackie at the head of the table and Grampa with his huge ‘Winston’ mug full of sweet tea.
After dinner, I would run into the living room to beat Grampa to his recliner. Every week, this was our time. I was Grampa’s ‘buddy’ and that was our queue to watch Scooby-Doo reruns. We saw them all. Some weeks we would throw in a game of Scrabble. Me and Grampa versus Jackie. We always won. Grampa was never wrong. Best. Childhood. Ever.
G.G. was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. Before her passing, my family moved in to help in any way we could. I took G.G.’s former room as she could no longer climb the stairs. G.G. and Jackie slept downstairs in a daybed and Grampa took the downstairs room in his house because his emphysema kept him from climbing the stairs. Mom, Dad, & Kyle took the upstairs rooms in the big house.
Later, when Grampa passed in 2009, I took the room downstairs so Jackie could have the apartment for herself. Each morning she would make a pot of coffee and write what she was thankful for in her calendar before finishing her daily crossword puzzle and getting ready for her job at the library. Evenings she would cook dinner for the family. Some of my most fond memories are around the dinner table, joking and carrying on with people I love.
So here I am at G.G.’s house. At Jackie’s House. At My house.
It is so strange having seen this place go through so many changes. So many memories, happy and sad are connected with this place. After Jackie passed away I couldn’t even stand to be in this living room alone. It has definitely taken some adjustments moving here from the loft.
In trying to make this place my own, I have realized that pieces of each of those wonderful people have made me who I am today. And I want that reflected in my new abode. The original wallpaper from G.G.’s dining room is now the border for an old picture of her, framed in my room. Her rocking chair used for years of ‘lap time’ sits beside my bookshelf. Grampa’s mug now holds my pens and pencils. The Scrabble game is stacked up with all of my other games in the living room. The living room layout resembles a modified version of G.G.’s from when we used to have sleepovers on her pull-out couch and she would recite stories of lost kittens and scary catfish.
And of course, there are also hints of Mimi and Papa around the place too- my mother’s parents. Mimi helped mom decorate the house as they finished renovations this past year. She did an amazing job of sewing and hanging all the curtains in the house. And her decorations are still donning my kitchen and dining room. Mimi and Papa live across town and I am so thankful we still hold our Sunday lunch tradition at their place. The entire family and any and all welcomed guests get together after church, asking God blessings for the food while we are all blessed with each other’s company. I come from good stock.
These are my people. This is my place. And I am very blessed.