Sunday, August 30, 2009

Memories and Shaving Creme

via Le Love

When I was young I often had the occasion to spend the night at my hometown grandma's house. Thinking of those times summons all sorts of sensory images:

Kitchen: Sun shining in, prisms casting dancing rainbows on the wall, the floor. Fresh flowers on the table.

The room was warm, friendly, the heart of the home. Grandma was a great cook/baker, but her cookie jar always had Oreos inside.

Living room: Black Forest cuckoo clock. Jade, ivy, rich flowering violets. A china cabinet with Coalport figurines.

"Mine" was named Kelly, because she was a teacher and green and lovely and prim and Grandma said she reminded her of me. While I've no urge to collect china dolls for myself, I spent many childhood hours looking at her figurines and pouring over the import catalogues that featured them.

The Front Entry: The Tupperware animal toys, Lincoln logs, Jeans Beans and other dolls. On the shelf, out of reach were board games: Chinese checkers, Whot, Scrabble, and more. Hanging in the closet were her coats -- including a worn fur she'd had for years.

I realize now, my grandma was not only a stylish lady but my own hero when I was young. I held her world and possessions in a kind of awe that hasn't faded. I saw her every day of my life, but she was always someone special.

The Basement: Cool, damp, scary open stairs, a small enclosed root cellar that smelled of potatoes and onions and earth. Canned goods, vases waiting for flowers, and old toys. My favorite was an old baby buggy that my aunts played with in the early 1940s.

The Front Yard: Bird bath, hummingbird feeder, lilac bushes, tiger lilies that would stain your clothes, babies breath and gorgeous flower beds.

The Back Yard: Rose bushes, a small garden, clothes line, mint plants, honeysuckle, and a shed full of all kinds of treasures -- old hats and gloves, things from grandma's past.

I remember being fascinated by "taking one's garbage out" and how it was picked up by someone. We just had "the burn barrel" and an entirely different garbage routine at home.

Guest room: firm mattress, cool sheets, new nighttime noises

I grew up on a farm inhabited by nature sounds at night and found the sounds of town unusual and distracting when it was bedtime for mini-me. Of course now, I'm trained to ignore the loud clanking of the trains that pass 1/2 mile from my house and the whistles as they blow through the center of town at all hours of the night.

Grandma's bedroom: the wooden jewelry box, her drawer of handkerchiefs, her kissing angels and lilac perfume. I loved to just put my nose to the bottle and inhale deeply. That smell was incredible to me when I was young. Grandma always had a Bible and a small book of devotionals by her bed.

Bathroom: Dove soap, ceramic wall hangings, a wooden toilet seat, a towel hamper built into the wall where we'd hide as children when playing hide and seek. It's so small I can't imagine ever fitting in there.

The inspiration or seed for this blog post came from the picture at the top of the post. It reminded me of the medicine cabinet mirror at my grandma's house. Truly, MY first home. What I think of as my grandma's house was actually my parents first home where they lived for about eight years before taking over the family farm.

Sometimes when the bathroom gets really steamy, one can read a message on the mirror written forty years ago in shaving creme. My memory fades and I can't quite remember what it said. I know there was a heart and it might have just said I love you, I think there might have been names or initials. Mom says she's not sure who wrote it -- her or dad. She thinks Valentine's Day may have played a role. It doesn't matter. I just know that I loved that steamy mirror message. I loved that 20 years later it would still show up, forever imprinted on that mirror surface.

The house was sold about a year after Grandma died. All sorts of memories are linked to the physical bits of that place, but I have them in my heart too. I hope that steamy mirror message still appears spreading its love.

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