There was a sleeping porch on the side of the house that wasn’t heated, and I quickly learned that all the Christmas cookies and fudge were stored there–kind of a Minnesota refigerator. I still prefer fudge that’s frozen.
Every morning I’d wake up to the smell of sizzling bacon, fresh-brewed coffee and cigarette smoke. My uncle was a chain smoker, and I loved to watch and see if his ever-growing ashes would hit the floor. They never did. This was back in the day when everyone smoked, even my dad. I nagged him when I was in high school and he finally quit.
My grandmother’s homemade bread was the best in the world. Soft and slightly sweet. How I wish I’d watched her make it so I’d have the secret.
I can’t hear the sound of mourning doves without thinking of sleeping at Gram’s house. They cooed every morning, and for a long time I thought they were owls. At the sound of their chorus, I immediately think of iron bedsteads, creaky wood floors, electric fans humming and hot summer nights.
My grandfather owned a hardward store, so another highlight was trying out all the brand-new tricycles and looking at all the merchandise. “Pa,” as we called him, would sit high up in his office overlooking the store and I would climb the stairs to see him. Each time he’d give me a shiny half dollar and a smile. I loved that.
I’m not sure why I titled this “Gram’s House,” because it was Pa’s home too. But my grandmother made that place. Her imprint was everywhere. My mom was the same, and maybe I am too. When my mother died, her sister Rose said, “It’s just another house now. She made it a home.”
It’s different coming into another woman’s home as I have. I couldn’t just walk in and change everything after so many years with other things. I have a few pieces of furniture and some pictures, but that’s all. And that’s OK. I think it’s more important that my stepdaughter feel at home. She lost her mom, and that trumps everything. As it should.