Lessons from Gremom's House

I miss my grandparents. Is that something you ever get over? I often spend a few minutes lost in happy memories from childhood, teleported back to a time when things were simpler and life still made sense, when I felt loved and completely secure. And what can I cull from all those happy times and apply to life today?

1. It's NOT okay to throw things away! My grempop was the original packrat. If he thought it would even remotely possibly be useful at some point in the (far) future, he'd find a place to stash it. Even his home, which he built with his own two hands, was made up of a menagerie of bricks and paving stones from demolished factories. And even gremom was famous for her smidge dinners...if there was even a tablespoon of some food item left, it would find it's way into some redneck Rubbermaid and show up at the next meal.

2. You can't get those moments back. Grempop would spend hours playing Connect Four with me, and making projects with me in his musty-but-well-appointed basement. Gremom would bake with me, and make homemade playdough. In our rushrushrush day and age, it's tempting to squeeze time from the most forgiving source, which is usually family. But time is fleeting. And sometimes, the best remedy to our stress-riddled life is to hunker down with your preschooler and discuss what's happening inside that anthill.

3. Gardening is a big step towards being self-sufficient. Grempop was known far and wide for his garden. To my childhood eyes, his garden was just huge! He grew everything, from rhubarb to sweet corn, mint to bell peppers. We ate so well over the summers, all that good produce seasoned with the satisfaction of growing it yourself. It was cheap, and very healthy, except for the browned butter that Gremom insisted on pouring over everything (but who are we to roll our eyes? they both lived well into their 90's).

4. Unconditional love is a gift that costs nothing, but is unparelleled in value. Having an older brother & sister, I spent alot of time being picked on. But Gremom's house was always my soft place to land. All that was required of me was to pick up the phone, and Grempop would be on his way to drive me back to their house. I was never "too much of a bother", they just always welcomed me, no matter what.

5. Aloe Vera fixes everything. :)

What would I give to have 10 minutes with them again? Just to thank them for these lessons, and the multitude of other kindnesses that came so naturally to them. Guys, I miss you. Can't wait to see you again....

This picture was taken by some unknown (to me) person, who caught my grempop and I taking a nap in the backseat of his car. We didn't know this existed until we were cleaning out the house after Grempop died and Gremom needed to go to a long term care facility. Hands down, this is my favorite picture ever.


  1. That was the old 1972 Dodge Polaris that he used to have. Eventually, the car wound up being driven by Daddy.

    I think it was Gremmom that took the picture; notice all the rings on the left hand of the picture taker?

    You must have been all of 3 years old in the picture -- it was back at the time when Grempop wore watches (a habit he gave up later), and I think he was still working part time as a bumper salesman/delivery at Keystone Bumpers. If I had to venture a guess at the year, 1978?

    In all the swirling tensions of the times (geopolitical uncertainity, the Iran hostage crisis driving up fuel prices to over $1/gallon, a peanut farmer in the White House), they always had time for us.

    I was 10 about this time, and rode my bicycle over there(by myself) frequently. Up Walnut, down Church, over Freemont, and down the 5 mile hill.

    Speaking of the garden -- I don't remember if you went to pick up the fertilizer with Grempop. He used the leftovers from the stables over by Angelica. I spread the garden one time with him, and it was lots of fun :)