Sunday, July 10, 2011
My favorite family vacation was…
We used to make the trip in the summertime. The drive seemed so long! We would stop along the way and eat sandwiches (cheese and bologna). If we were lucky, we would cross the Mighty Mack after dark when it was alive with the lights that rose to each side of the towers. Or, if we were really lucky, we would stop behind Glen’s Market, bare our feet, roll up our pant legs, wade into Lake Michigan, and fill our tube socks with Petoskey Stones.
But the luckiest part of the trip was when we were finally there: Grandma’s house. I loved arriving late, when Grandma’s hair was already in curlers for the night and the house was dark except for the porch light that she left on for us and the aquarium inside that was home to her black mollies.
Grandma’s house was my favorite place to visit as a child. I loved everything about her home—the shelves, lined with AVON bottles; the colored paring knives; the bushes outside with those big white berry dingles on its branches; the flagpole in the front yard; the crossword puzzle books in the basket in the living room; the big room upstairs where Grandma told me that if I keep one foot under the blanket, and one foot out, I wouldn’t get too hot or too cold; the pink bubble bath; the cuckoo clock (did I imagine that? I can’t remember now if there was one or not); the tea cups; the plants overtaking the front porch; the dreamsicles in the freezer; the swingset out back; the front steps; the short walk to Dewey’s, where we would buy the world’s largest pixie sticks.
And, of course, the very first love of my life—Grandma Schmitzer’s piano. It just sat there, in the back of her house. I always wondered what it was doing there. Grandma didn’t play, as far as I know (though I think my Uncle David told me that Grandpa taught Grandma some piano before they were married). So why did she keep it? After her husband passed away, after her children had grown and left home, there it sat—silent, except when the grandkids visited, I’m sure. How many times did I play chopstick on that old instrument? How very many songs took root in my heart in that back porch!
Grandma’s home was our home in so many ways. With all of the uncertainty of our young lives and whether we would ever “settle” somewhere, I think there was a comfort in knowing that we were always welcome at Grandma’s house. She always had a place for us at her table. She always had beds (even if we sometimes had to share). She always waited up for us, and left the light on. She was my home for many years—the place where I was free to chase that dream of making music, before I ever realized I wanted it. We didn’t take vacations; but every summer, it seems, we found a way to visit Grandma—to go home.
I hope your memories of visiting your grandparents are as full of love and life as mine are!
All my love,