I am flooded today with memories of my grandparents’ house. As a kid it was a magical place that we were only lucky enough to visit on summer vacations and every other Christmas. It was not a huge house, a modest Sears and Roebuck home built in 1938, just on the outskirts of Washington D.C. My grandfather and his family moved in to the house when he was 14. In turn, my grandfather later bought the house from his father, and my mother moved into the house when she was 14. The house was a happy home to the same family for its entire life. It saw many a Thanksgiving Dinner, Christmas Morning and visiting relative. Some of the happiest moments of my childhood were spent there.
The house that was full of family memories for me was full of great memories of generosity and hospitality for many others. Through the years my grandparents hosted more guests than you can imagine, most for a few days but many for months at a time while they were getting on their feet in a new area. It would be impossible to count the number of Sunday dinners that were hosted in that dining room. I doubt my grandparents could tell you how many times that they were alone in their home in the 53 years that they were married. I cannot think of a better example of love and compassion than using the home that the Lord has provided to do good works!
In 2006 my grandfather died of cancer. I remember so vividly the whole experience, his diagnoses, the phone call, my last visit with him. It was a time in my life that I can look back and really feel like I was crossing a milestone. Something I knew I would have to face as an adult but wished I could run from as fast as I could. Of course the family gathered from near and far for his funeral and once again the house was full.
Though it was a sad occasion, it was wonderful to sit at the kids table again, squeeze in the tiny t.v. room with all of my cousins and sit around and tell funny stories about Grandpa. Though we were missing a very important member of the family, the house somehow seemed to be happy to be full once more with its family.
I returned many times over the years after Grandpa’s death to visit my grandmother. Every time, I fought back tears when I arrived because Grandpa was not there to greet me. Even with him gone, the house was still a home - it was my home away from home. The old family photos were still on the wall. The trunk full of family memories was still in the basement. There was still a quilt on my bed, my grandmother was still serving ice cream after dinner,and the cookie jar was still on the counter. My grandfather was still everywhere.
This year I feel that I have crossed another mile stone in life. I am still growing up and still wishing I could run! My Grandmother sold the house and moved closer to her daughters. While this was the right decision for her, it has been so devastating for me. Shortly after she moved, my grandparent’s house was torn down. Making room, I am sure, for a larger, nicer house with a huge master bedroom with a walk in closet. I cannot express to you the sadness I have been feeling. To know that my happy home away from home is gone forever. I have been beating myself up and telling myself that it is ridiculous to be so attached to a house. It was just a house. It just happened to be filled with some pretty great people and some pretty unbelievable memories. My mind has been flooded with memories of my grandfather, and this event has made me miss him so much more. What I wouldn’t give to sit on his porch with him one more time and have a chat while he fed his squirrels!
I have been lucky, I think, to have such stability and happiness in my life. To have grandparents that never moved, and parents that have never moved! My parents still live in the house I grew up in, and now I live next door! I guess I will forever be a nostalgic person that is too attached to my worldly things. As I say goodbye to my grandparent’s house, I know this means that I am getting older. There will be more milestones to cross and more sadness to face, but there are also many more happy memories to be made! I can’t wait to tell my nieces and nephews and little cousins all about my grandparent’s house and all of the good times I had there!
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