Monday, August 16, 2010

a weekend at grandpa’s. part one.

This weekend we traveled North to a small town in Minnesota to visit my Grandfather, (my mom’s stepfather, her father died before I was born).   It was the very first time that my husband and son ever met him.  It was the first time I was able to show them his house, which I have always admired.  Sadly, this was also the last opportunity that we’d be able to visit him at his lake front, dome shaped home.  IMG_4920

My grandmother passed away last year and he is eighty-nine.  He still lives alone.  His vision is very poor and it’s too much work to maintain the place and he’s starting to need more help with daily activities.  The beautiful home  that he built in 1988  has been sold and he is moving within the next month to a sort of assisted living place.

IMG_4854 It’s the saddest thing to know that he won’t be there for much longer.  It’s a place that feels so familiar, but ironically, before this weekend, I can’t remember the last time I visited.  The past few days were such a mix of nostalgia and bizarre unfamiliarity, I wonder if these words will do my thoughts justice.

IMG_4833 The truth is that I’ve never been close to my grandparents.  I never lived by any of them.  I never rode my bike to their house after school.  I never visited for the ritual Sunday dinner.   We’d see each other on rare special occasions and we would receive birthday cards and Christmas gifts in the mail each year, but I can’t say that I really felt close to them.   Both of my parents moved away from their small hometowns and never really looked back.  I knew they were good, kind people.  I knew small pieces of their life stories.  I know they always loved to see us (and still do, of course), but our relationships don’t go much deeper.  I admit it sounds a bit depressing, but that’s all I’ve known.   


This weekend, I was so excited that Matt would be able to finally see in person, all the stories that I’ve told him about this place.  Then, I literally spent a good part of the four hour drive, trying to remember all the “memories.”  I counted five.

1.  I remember an old photograph of my parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and some of us older cousins (who were not so old then) all sitting on the grass and playing in the lake.  I was a baby, so it’s not my memory, but I remember the picture.  I am certain that was a wonderful day.

2. I remember my whole family, maybe six of us then, crammed on a small paddle boat fishing on the lake.  I remember catching a fish and naming him George.  He was small and I couldn’t keep him.  I gave him his freedom.  I’m sure he went on to live a wonderful life.

3.  I remember my Grandmother telling me that a banana would spoil my dinner.   I remember feeling so hungry and that it took eternity for dinner to actually be ready.

4.  I remember as a child sleeping in the loft, above the living room, which I thought was the coolest space ever.  They had the evening news on below, quite loudly and my Grandmother told me that I had to sleep instead of peering over the edge.  It was too loud, I told her, but she informed me that I still must go to sleep.

5.  I remember the house.  For some reason, this has been my favorite of all the memories and I’m trying to understand why.  It’s just a place, a rather spectacular home on a lovely lake, in the middle of Minnesota nowhere.  This home doesn’t fill my mind with wonderful stories of the best moments from my childhood; it is a small side note in my story.  It’s somewhere I visited a handful of times in my life.  Yet, I love it there. 

Now, I have a sixth memory to add to that last. 

This weekend. I loved sharing this place with my husband, this place that I cherish so idyllically.  I loved watching our son call after the ducks and throw sticks in the yard.  I loved listening to the story of how my Grandfather met my Grandmother and how this month they would have celebrated 30 years of marriage, if she was still alive.   I want to share those stories with you this week, because they are memories worth sharing. 


While it’s easy to understand why this new arrangement will be so much better for him, it’s still sad to know, he won’t be there, in this place that I remember so well and at the same time, so little.

What about you?  Is your childhood full of memories of days spent with your grandparents and relatives?  What are you favorite memories of those times?



  1. what a beautiful memory and beautiful house. That's so amazing that he built that- and well into his 60s already at the time?

    this also makes me think about how we need to move closer to our parents sometime. I don't want Hendrix growing up not knowing them well.

    glad you got to visit that meaningful spot one more time.

  2. That house is just awesome. And part of me thinks you will not be surprised...but Liv, I've gotta say I can so relate to this post. I've lived states away from grandparents all of my life, and distance does not foster close family ties. I love them, and vice-versa, but as you say the relationship isn't that deep. Anyway...the house made me think of the home my mom grew up in, that my aunt lives in now. Their dad built it in the 1950s, and I think mom's been facing what may happen to that house when the day comes that my aunt decides to move, or her living on her own is just no longer feasible. It's tough for me to think about, that's for sure...because even though I wouldn't say we were ever super close, the walls of that house are saturated with love and memories of fun times...and if that's the case for me, I know it's one hundred times over the case for my mom. Poignant and bittersweet...a beautiful post, my friend!

  3. Such amazing memories...I"m glad you were all able to share it one last time.


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