Grandma’s House

We’re back at my dear mother-in-law’s house for another week, awaiting the results of her evaluation from a wonderful program that is helping us get a handle on what is affecting her. Things are going much better than our last visit, but still challenging. I spent most of the day yesterday cleaning out her pantry. Several food items had been infested by some kind of weevil or beetle. Some things were just too ancient for words. It was almost as scary what the weevils left alone as what they had gotten into. Then later in the evening we got a tongue-lashing for “ruining her life.” Uh…you’re welcome.

As I was pulling things from the shelves and checking for pests, I had more time to think about the dynamics of these visits. I have long realized that the hardest part of our stay here is trying to keep things as positive as possible for our kids. I want them to have good memories of Grandma’s house. Particularly because the child is blessed with an excellent memory, I know these events will stick in her brain and I want most of it to be good.

What do you remember about Grandma’s house?

My family had to travel  three days in a car with no air conditioning to visit our grandparents, so we only got to see them once a year. I remember the smell of Grandma C’s house – to this day if I find a place with a similar aroma I am transported – but that unique mingling of scents is hard to come by. I remember large family gatherings (my mother had 7 siblings, so even if only some of them came to see us we made quite a group) with dinner served on Grandma’s long table. All the kids would take our plates to the back porch while the grown ups would talk. I remember fireflies, picking strawberries, sleeping on the floor near the old grandfather clock, and watching reruns of old sitcoms like Andy Griffith, the Munsters, and the Adams Family. Grandma and Grandpa S lived another day’s drive away. We planned our itenerary to visit both sides of the family in the same trip. There we had more cousins to play with, more yummy dinners, homemade ice cream – the kind you have to crank by hand, lots of books to explore, and sing-a-longs around the piano. In both of these places we were often left to find our own way…to play, to explore, to discover and learn.

Those memories may seem idyllic. We are blessed that our extended family on both sides have always been relatively close. In spite of (or maybe due to?) the distance, sqabbles and disagreements have been rare. It was also a different era, and a different setting where it was perfectly safe for us to wander around without adult supervision. Still I’ve realized that somehow I’ve been trying to reach that standard for my kids, and I don’t think it is within reach. I can’t let them run around outside without a grown up, and cleaning out the pantry doesn’t leave a lot of energy for sing-a-longs or homemade anything. Hearing Grandma’s angry voice talking to Mom and Dad may not help much either.

The bottom line is we need to make our own memories here. It’s going to be different, but I’m hoping it can still be good.

What do you remember about Grandma’s house?

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