I live in a house. I know. Obvious, right? What is a house, but bricks and wood and shingles and cement blocks?
My grandma and grandpa had this house built in 1978 when they moved from the big city to the small-town country. It sits on a piece of land that once belonged to my folks, who live a short walk away through the woods. My father built this house.
My grandfather died when the foundation was only just finished. Grandma lived here for 30-plus years without him.
When grandma moved to a nursing home a few years ago, we uprooted our city life and moved to the country. To live in grandma’s house that dad built.
This house is built of bricks and wood and shingles and cement blocks. And memories.
When we’re not spending hours each day on the road back and forth to the big city where the jobs are, we’re in the kitchen: making dinner, baking, doing dishes, talking.
I remember visiting grandma and eating soft boiled eggs – fixed up in little ramekins with pats of butter – at the same green kitchen counter where my son now eats breakfast every morning. My sister and I call them “grandma eggs”.
In grandma’s kitchen, she kept a calendar where she made detailed notes about the weather for each and every day. We have a calendar in the kitchen, but it is more likely to indicate “no school” or “dr appt”, than the temperature for the day.
We still use grandma’s polka-dot glasses.
When I was young, grandma gave me piano lessons in her living room on a spinet piano. The organ sat across the room in a corner. The top of the piano held stacks of Sheet Music Magazine and portraits of her children – my mom & uncle. A large needlepoint work by my mom was on the wall above the piano.
The walls are no longer green and the green fern carpet has been replaced by wood floors. We have an old upright piano in the same place where grandma’s spinet resided. The top holds a candle or two, and a mission-style stained glass lamp. The frame above the piano contains a signed print by Bela Petheo. Music on the piano is as likely to be The Imperial March by John Williams as it is Erik Satie. Or nothing at all for those times when my husband and son perform improvisational duets that employ loud percussive effects.
I love summer rain in this house. My brilliant father built the house with wonderful deep, sheltering eaves that allow one to open the windows and listen to the rain.
In the summer, I can sit in the porch watching the deer mow down my new vegetable garden and the squirrels gathering up the multitude of acorns that drop with loud pings! onto the propane tank.
And in the winter, I can use the porch like grandma did: as excellent cold storage for Christmas cookies.
I recently drove by our old house in the city. It is a lovely old Tudor home on a small lot in a first-ring suburb. It has plaster walls, wood floors, and what my husband referred to as a yardlet. We used a reel mower to cut the grass in the yardlet and it took maybe an hour.
When we moved to grandma’s house, we had to buy a Mower. Because, my goodness, the size of this yard... cutting the grass is something to plan your entire day or weekend around. But that’s okay.
Here, we can go sledding in the backyard. Hike through the woods for hours, on trails made by the neighbors, my parents. See wildlife up close and personal, every single day. Play soccer and baseball in the backyard, and hockey in the driveway.
And listen to the quiet.
I live in a house. I live in this house; this house built by my dad, lived in by my grandma for 30-some years, and now inhabited by me, my husband, and my children.
We are slowly making it our own, bit by bit, while gently holding the memories that make it more than just a house built of bricks and wood and shingles and cement blocks.