Tag Archives: grandpa

Sharing My World 30

 

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The little faded drawing in the middle of this picture is at least ten years old, made by our oldest granddaughter, when she was maybe three or four.  The creation and the concept and the words are hers, and all this time later I’ve added a border hoping to preserve her little masterpiece from getting lost or destroyed.  Her initials are above her self-portrait, and GR is a short form for grandpa.  And I guess that day they were being silly.  Worth saving, worth sharing, right?

Share Your World – 2015 Week #22

Finish these four sentences. You can talk about yourself or be creative and write a piece of fiction. It’s up to you. Have some fun.

Never In My Life Have I….

needed so little sleep as I do now since settling into retirement and advanced years.  That sounds better than ‘old age’.  You know, slightly.   I read somewhere that old people need less sleep, probably in part because a lot of them don’t have anything much to do anymore and thus don’t get exhausted.  Or it’s simply part of healthy aging where reductions in the sleep duration and depth are fine, and less sleep is required to maintain daytime alertness.   I’m trying to remember if I ever had a lot of daytime alertness when I felt sleep deprived.  Anyway, 6 hours a night seems to be the norm now.  And no daytime naps.  It’s all very weird.

My neighbour wants me to help her…..

feel less embarrassed by my flower beds.  Really, I don’t even know much about my neighbors on either side of me.  Except that their names are Denise and Faye and they both have amazing things growing in their front yards.  I have dogwood and a little tree that needs constant trimming and rarely gets it, and some kind of thorny berry bush growing wild.  Hey, I make both of them look good simply by being lazy non-gardening me.  They should be happy about that.

When I was little I wanted…

to get out of going to church every Sunday.  My mother never let that happen, even though the place was incredibly boring and I hated getting dressed up.  She had some strange and very strict rules.  Church got a little more interesting when I was part of the junior choir and could play Snap…

(Each player has a pile of cards face down and together they turn the cards up one by one until they match.  Whoever says SNAP first wins the other’s turned over pile of cards.  The object of the game is to win all the cards.)

….with my church friend.  We used the left over hymn number cards that went on the  little board on the wall announcing the page numbers of the hymns that we would be singing during the service.  It’s good for a congregation to all be on the same page.  It took a lot of stealth to never get caught playing with these cards, along with sitting in the back row and as far away from the choir leader as possible.  And it made the sermon almost bearable.  Church is where I became a clock watcher, wishing time would speed up so I could go home and do ANYTHING else.   Although whispering and being sneaky was fun.

Will you come here to…

work on my flowerbeds?  Explain to me what I was supposed to get out of Sunday mornings besides mad Snap skills?  Or we could just have coffee and you could assure me that I do indeed appear to be alert and don’t have dark circles under my eyes from lack of sleep.  We could play a rousing game of cards.  There might be cake.

Bonus question: What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

Half the time I don’t know or care what day of the week it is.  I’m grateful for that.  It’s very freeing.  I’m also grateful for the time to be creative, now that there are 18 hours of being awake in my day.  So do I use all those hours productively?  Pffft.  No.

But I wrote this!  I preserved a memory!  I admitted my small bit of flower bed remorse.  The day isn’t a complete write-off.

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Walking to Grandmas

 

veranda chair 002

It is the early 1950’s.  Not a hundred years ago, but in this old head it feels like it could be.  Mom wipes some flour off her house dress, tucks a stray lock of hair behind her ear, and hands us a basket of apples with a handle big enough for two little hands to share.  She tells us to deliver this to grandmas house.  Together, remember, mom tells my brother.  Keep your little sister with you, wait if she gets behind, don’t walk on the road, watch for cars.  No stopping!  Grandma is waiting for you, so off you go.  Dad and I will be over for supper soon.

That’s  lot of rules and instructions, and I’ll never remember all of them.  Neither will my brother, but that’s simply because he choses not to.  He bends and breaks rules all the time or makes up his own.  I admire him greatly and trust him implicitly and will do whatever he says.

Grandmas house is easy to see from ours, even though it’s a bazillion miles away,  up a winding laneway at the top of a hill.   I love to go to grandmas and I’m thrilled to be big enough at last to walk there with my brother.  I like to keep my eyes on our destination as it gets closer and closer with every step.  I like how the dry gravel dust puffs up and coats my shoes.  Ron likes to stop and dawdle and kick things, and jump down into the ditch for an amazing stick or a funny rock.   I am on the look-out for big bad wolves.   If I tell him this he’ll just laugh at me, so I don’t.  I imagine the house of Red Riding Hoods grandma looking just like this.   It is made of stones and has big white pillars holding up the roof over the  porch where one corner points in and another juts out.  No one else outside of a story book has a veranda of such magnificence.

There are big white outdoor rocking chairs waiting to be climbed on, and the wonderful smell of flowers cascading from buckets and beds all around.  The last leg of the laneway is very steep  and the basket is ten times heavier than when we started out.  I am dusty and thirsty and hot.

Grandma always whoops and fluffs up her apron and acts completely surprised to see us when we land on her doorstep.  She says funny things like ‘land sakes’ and ‘mercy’ and is always calling out for Will.  That’s grandpa.  He never answers, but eventually he will show up from the barn or the field or the woodshed quietly going about his business.  Grandma is never quiet.  She’s the very opposite of that.  It’s always crazy and noisy wherever she is, with banging pots and clomping feet and non-stop out-loud thinking.  Years later when I learn about ‘inside voices’ I realize that grandma never had one.

She takes the apples and plops herself into a chair.  Fetch another sharp paring knife Will!  Don’t you children touch these knives!  Oh, the apples are grand! Apple Brown Betty for supper, there’s nothing better.   Will, fetch some kindling for the cookstove!   And the stove is where that stick you brought into my house is headed,  she tells my brother.  No sticks in  my kitchen, and empty those rocks out of your pockets young man, they belong outside on the road!  Here’s the dipper.  Go out to the pump and get yourselves a drink of water!  Run along now!  Shoo!

Ron and I escape back out into the sunshine, drink as much cold sweet water as we have the energy to pump,  and then go looking for garter snakes in the long grass.  Grandma thinks little people should be seen and not heard, but she talks so much that we never really have to say much to her, so that’s one rule that’s pretty easy to keep.

When night comes and I curl up in my little bed with my tummy full of sweet Apple Brown Betty, sleep comes easy.  The long walk on short legs, all the sunshine and fresh air, plus a head full of grandmas random exclamations have done me in.  I want to go again tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after that!  I want it to be summer forever.  I want to always have dust on my shoes.

A House Full of Doors

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Weekly Writing Challenge: Collecting Detail

The year is somewhere in the early 1950’s because I am not yet six.  Six is the magical age I will be when we move my grandparents off their farm to live in a brand new place with us. So the details of grandmas house should be nothing but foggy distant childhood memories by now, but they’re not.  They’re as vivid to me today as the view from my own kitchen window is from yesterday.  I close my eyes and the pictures come alive.

Grandmas kitchen is a fascinating place with doors to somewhere else all around the room.  There’s the door I just popped through from the white pillared porch, too big and heavy to pull shut all by myself.  Off to the right is the door to the woodshed.  I never open that door and I make sure I hurry to somewhere else when grandpa goes to fetch wood for the black wood stove so grandma can cook things and bang her pots and pans around while she waits for the fire to be just right. Beyond that door is a dark and scary place full of damp wood smells and cold still air.  And maybe dogs and wild scratching cats. I don’t want to find out what’s in there.

old radioThe door to the cellar is also closed against the darkness.  I am not allowed to open that one.  Grandma is sure if I do I will tumble down the stairs.  I am also not permitted to go through the door beside the giant radio that’s as big as me.  The radio is playing and grandpa is sitting beside it halfway across this doorway like a guard, bent over with his ear up against the soft cloth part where the voices come through.  He has to do this to hear it, because grandma doesn’t like it to be too loud, although she never stops talking and banging things around to drown it out, no matter how far grandpa turns up the knob.  The  door behind grandpa leads to the hallway and then there’s another door to the front room.  Only special company can go in to the front room.  Not children.  Children are to be seen and not heard, as grandma is very fond of saying over and over again so you’re not likely to ever forget it.

But I know another way to get in there.  I know how to be a child who is not heard and not seen either.  There is an open doorway next to the woodshed door which goes into the utility/store-room, and from there another closed door that leads to the indoor plumbing.  This is what grandma calls the new bathroom.  Kids are definitely encouraged to use the bathroom whenever they want and they don’t even have to ask.  I quietly slip in there and click the door closed behind me.  There is an enormous white tub beside a tiny white sink, and off in the corner like an afterthought, the shiny new toilet, snug up between the wall and three stair steps leading up to yet another door.  This is the one I sneak through and close silently so that I am standing on the landing, where a left turn leads to the upstairs.

I never go all the way up these stairs (there is no one up there to save me from whatever frightening things the second story harbors), but I like to go halfway.  I am small enough to fit my head and one arm and shoulder through the spindle railing under the shiny brown banister at just the right spot.  There on a flat-topped bureau below me sits a beautiful yellow-green cut glass pedestal bowl filled with luscious wax fruit. There is a golden apple with a rosy red blush on one fat round side, looking good enough to eat, although it’s not.  I tried to bite into it once and was unpleasantly surprised and sorely disappointed.  The marks from my teeth are still there to remind me of the experience.  There is also a cluster of blue-violet grapes, a bumpy tangerine orange and a creamy golden banana.  I like to look at them and touch them, pulling my fingertips across their sticky waxy skins.

Now, instead of retracing my steps and returning to the bathroom, I tiptoe down the three stairs that lead in the opposite direction from the landing and into the hallway.  Slowly, silently I creep towards the front room door and at the last minute, scoot across behind grandpa, inside and around the corner where I stop and hold my breath until I’m sure no one has seen me.

Grandmas front room has the most incredibly beautiful windows I have ever seen in my short little life.  They are tall and clear in the middle and they let the sunshine come streaming through to light up big bright patches on the hardwood floor.  On either side of each window are small rectangular panes of pebbled coloured glass.  Skycolored glass blue, sunshine yellow, and best of all, brilliant red.  I press my nose up to my favourite red one (it’s my favourite because it’s the only one I can reach by balancing on the arm of the big stuffed chair) and gaze out at a crazy red world.  The leaves on the trees are red; the sky, the grass, the fence and every one of grandmas flowers – everything.  Magically, unbelievably  red, red, red. I want the glass to swallow me up into this delicious red bubble where I can be as red as a riding hood, as red as a real apple, crunchy and sweet, as red as my red flyer wagon, spinning down a slippery red slope into a land where red never stops.

Oh oh.  I hear grandma wondering in a very loud voice where I’ve gotten myself off to. I hear her go clumping away and barging through the bathroom door.  In a flash I hop down off the chair, run back out into the hallway and through the forbidden door where I put my flushed cheek up against grandpa’s arm and clutch hold of his overall pant leg.  He doesn’t even look up.  There you are, grandma exclaims as she marches back into the kitchen.  I didn’t see you.  Were you right there all along?  She was, grandpa chuckles.  Right here beside me.  Quiet as a mouse, just like always.

The big radio is a wonder, the wax fruit, the many doors and the beautiful stained glass windows – I love them all.  But perhaps the best thing in this house full of doors is having a grandpa who’s as good as I am at keeping sneaky secrets.

 

Pictures From Moms Kitchen (Part Two)

He followed me into the house – can I keep him?
“Yikes – I think there’s a ghost behind us!” “Really? HAHA Nothing scares me – everything makes me laugh. Everything. Life is hilarious.”
Me and my happy happy boy.
All ready to go to Aunt Ann’s wedding.
Grandpa McArthur tells the best stories and sings the silliest songs.

Yes, in this kitchen I slathered jam on my toast.  It was homemade.  It was delicious.  There were some things I was powerless to resist.  However, the instant coffee was not one of them.  I got a coffee maker for my mother, and she dutifully hauled it out for me every time we came to visit.

Grandpa William

This picture is dated January, 1957.  I don’t have very many pictures of my Grandpa William Scott, but there he is looking like he might prefer to be somewhere else.

My sister and I must have been given dolls for Christmas.  I’m surprised mine is still wearing clothes and has all it’s hair and no missing limbs.  (It’s not that I didn’t like my dolls, we just played hard.)  Once they were naked and bald and had full body tatoos my mother would throw them out.  And there would be all my sister’s cute little blonde beauties looking about the same as they did straight out of the box.

The china cabinet on the left is still in the family!  When we had it here it belonged to my Aunt M, was used by my grandmother, (who threatened us with fates worse than death if we marked it up) and eventually got passed on to Aunt M’s daughter.  She has the whole set including table and chairs.  This hutch was blonde wood with glass doors and considered very chic and elegant furniture in the 50’s.

I don’t remember that lamp with its mis-matched bulbs, but the drapes were pretty unforgetable.  They were bold reds and greens on a white background with splashes of vibrant lime and yellow.   That’s grandmas sewing machine on the right, and my brother is sitting on one of my moms home made hooked rugs.

In this picture my sister is four, I am seven, and my brother is ten.  Grandpa is seventy three.  He died less than six months later in May of 1957 shortly after my eighth birthday.  So I suppose we can forgive him his unsmiling face. I remember how sad I felt for him when he was so sick.  Before that he was always quietly happy, very polite, truly gentle.  He helped me out when I was learning to ride a bike but didn’t give me very clear instructions about using the brakes.  I ran into the back of his pontiac to stop.  Grandpa was a hard worker.  He put up with grandma. He loved his family.

We found a poem my aunt wrote about him – perhaps it was a school assignment, or maybe she just felt like writing something nice about her dad.  My mom kept a copy of it and this is what it says:

My Father

Who gets up every morn at break of day

To light the fire and milk and feed the hay

And then comes in to eat three bowls of porridge?

My Father.

Who says when Mother firmly shakes her head

“Oh let them go this once,” – no sooner said

We’re out the open door with thanks to whom?

My Father.

Who kills and plucks the rooster by request,

Then eats the neck (he says he likes it best)

And then goes off to bed when company comes?

My Father.

Who carries in the wood and pumps the water

When blizzards blow and when the days grow hotter?

From one who knows –

Your ever grateful Daughter.

Perhaps it was written in a hand made birthday card.  I don’t know the circumstances, but I love the sentiments.