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My Grandmother's House

I was making my bed yesterday morning and something jolted me, something textural or visual brought me back to the bedroom in my grandmother’s house, my mamae’s house. Her house was a small house without closets, few doors, and for a child, not much seemingly to do in there, but it was warm, and I loved it. My sudden and unplanned thoughts were directed to a tiny space in her bedroom. It was a makeshift closet. A rod was hung in the corner facing her bed and dark fabric was draped from the scanty rod. It seemed a bit of a private space but, now and then, I would peep behind the ‘curtain’. It was dark and unassembled inside. There were dresses on coat hangers, shoes piled in a corner and darkness. As a child, I was fascinated with this unassuming space. Her big fluffy bed was near there and next to it was her altar, a crudely made table her husband had built decades before and it held close her Catholic icons and rosary. Also, in that room, was another bed. It was small and that is where the spillover of cousins slept when they came to stay a while. She had fifteen grandchildren and magically made each of us feel as though we were her only one.

Her kitchen was incredibly small, a kitchen where she once fed five children. It was nothing like the showcase kitchens of today, this one was much more beautiful. There was a small icebox on one wall and a wooden table under the window that faced the backyard. The light bulb was bare, and the electric toaster had to reach upward to plug in the socket of the bulb fixture. Breakfast was most likely toast and Steen's syrup. And lunch was later served but started on early; it was, possibly, chicken stew or fish couvillion. Either was served over white rice with a slice of the sweetest cantaloupe.

There was no AC. Instead, a small oscillating fan kept us cool and entertained. We would ‘talk’ into it, distorting our voices and making ‘evermore’ memories. The telephone was a party line, and she did not have a car. But she did have a China Ball tree in her tiny front yard and that was 10 times better.

The front bedroom was where her husband had passed one night decades ago. She was only thirty-eight and he was forty-one. Now, it was the bedroom with the ‘new’ furniture, a white bedroom set that had been purchased from a furniture store. It was a nice room with windows and plenty of sunshine, nothing like her bedroom which was dark and filled with history.

The bathroom was once a bedroom before indoor plumbing. Now, in that space, was a clawfoot tub, a cedar robe, and a wringer washer. I remember that tub full of cousins splashing and bathing on those nights when we a few of us would sleep there. 

My grandmother’s house is just a long-ago memory now. It still stands, but it is in ruin. Elizabeth and I went one day a few years ago to see it and it was sad. Other people had owned it and rented it and defaced it by now, the love was gone from it.

As I walked through the overgrown yard and stood on the old porch,I saw how time took you and Nature reclaimed you. My childhood memories and thoughts of my mother growing up there bombarded my mind and held my emotions captive. It was a fast train speeding through time and ending here with beautiful memories of a moment when my grandmother’s house was the best place in the world.


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