My favorite place to be when I was growing up was my Grandma’s House. Some of my most cherished memories of my childhood were created there. The minute I would walk in the door and see Grandma and Grandpa sitting in their matching brown corduroy recliners, any worries or problems would go from my mind. All that mattered from that point on was that I was at Grandma’s. Grandma’s house was located on about 20 acres on South Military Rd., in Winlock, WA. It was the cutest little two story white house on her road. On a good day you could see it from a couple miles away because it had a bright, red tin roof. It was at Grandma’s house where our whole family would come together on Christmas day to hang out with family, share in a delicious feast, and open presents. It was usually total chaos, while adults where trying to get dinner ready. The children were going crazy pestering everyone until they were finally allowed to open presents.
The presents, to look at, were nothing you would think a woman with as many years of wrapping experience would look like. It did not matter how many presents each one of us got, Grandma managed to get everything wrapped in one big package with usually two different kinds of wrapping paper because she would run out and use whatever she had on hand. Heaven forbid she should waste wrapping paper. Once the havoc of present opening was done, we would all sit down to a wonderful turkey dinner. My favorite part of dinner was my Grandma’s paste gravy. It was made with real bacon grease, flour, and a mixture of milk and water. Just thinking of it makes my mouth water. Although Grandma was not the best cook, I still crave her cooking to this day. Summers at Grandma’s were equally memorable. These were much more special times with just the cousins and Grandma and Grandpa. My cousins and I would spend hours upstairs in my dad and aunt’s old bedrooms playing dress up and pretending like we were the parents and re-arranging our “houses.”
The baby doll I always used, while we played house, was one that had been passed down for many generations. His name was Mr. Peabody; the poor thing had his fingers chewed off and chunks taken out of his head, nothing special by any means, but I loved him. I still have him to this day. When it was nice out, we liked to play out in the barn. There was so much old stuff out there that they had collected over the years. It was a gold mine for children with nothing to do and a brilliant imagination. My most vivid memory of the barn was a hot summer day in 1980. My two cousins and I were playing kitchen in the barn. There was an old portable two burner stove that I decided needed to be moved. As I picked it up, I started to trip on something, so I immediately let go of the stove.
The minute it slammed down, hundreds of bees’ flew out of there and headed straight for me. Within seconds, before I could even react, I was covered from head to toe with bees. I screamed and ran frantically out of there, towards the front of the house. Grandma heard my screams and comes running out to see what the ruckus was all about. As soon as she got to me, she started ripping off my clothes and hitting me with them trying to get the bees off. This day was also memorable because it was the first day I wore my new training bra. At the time, I did not know which was worse, the pain from the hundreds of bee stings I had received, or the embarrassment of standing in the front yard, stripped down to my panties and new training bra.
With all the wonderful memories I had growing up all I could ever imagine was to someday live there. That day came much sooner than I could have ever imagined. In 1992 my Grandma was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease. It was a very difficult time knowing that there is no cure and having no idea how much time will be left with the rock of your family. Grandma’s house became even more special. In January of 1993 my Grandpa passed away. At the same time, I found out I was pregnant with my first child. In June of the same year, we lost Grandma also. Although it was a really rough year, it made things easier knowing that when my son was born I was going to be bringing him home, to Grandma’s house.