Grandma & Me, 2004, by gscameraworks.
So I spoke with my mom on the weekend. My grandma isn't doing very well. She fell again and the doctor wants her to use a wheelchair. In fact, he doesn't want her trying to leave the wheelchair without help. This formidable woman who her younger sisters always lauded as the smart one is now mentally confined by dementia.
I wrote this story several years ago as part of a series based on my memories of the summers I spent on grandma and grandpa's farm. This one was her favorite.
That Beautiful Place
It was the middle of summer and the dreams were growing more frequent. I guess it’s only natural that I’d dream of the one place I spent so many summers growing up – the farm.
Sometimes the dreams were so real, I’d nearly cry when I woke up, angry that my beautiful trip had been interrupted by the alarm clock. Other times, the dreams were more abstract, almost like a Picasso painting – I knew where I was, but nothing was where I’d expect it to be, all a little off.
When I was a kid, I wished the house was the same, yet different. Always snooping around, I was forever hoping I’d find a secret stairwell to an unknown room full of, well, something exciting. Not money or anything so crass – rather I wanted to discover anything from generations past – old clothing, records, books, anything that could document times gone by. Sure, there was always the old storage room, but I was looking for…more.
Even though I never did find that secret room, I can remember the house had a very palpable soul – something that in hindsight, was way better than any jackpots I could have found. It certainly wasn’t haunted, not in the least. Rather there was a good old soul that had been there and seen everything through three generations. It was comforting.
Anyway, back to the dreams that got me thinking about that beautiful place. It’s funny, it’s not the big events that took place there that stand out. It’s all the small details that are etched in my mind. Like waking up before anyone except Grandpa – who almost always seemed to be awake before any other living being. The old timey music on the radio only seemed to exist in that one place – Grandma and Grandpa’s kitchen. The plastic tablecloth would save the heavy table from any toast crumbs that would inevitably sprinkle from my mouth.
Sometimes I’d get outside early enough that the dew was still on the ground. I’d just go out and breathe in the fresh morning air and have a chat with the dogs. If I got up a little later, I’d be lucky enough to trek to the end of the laneway and get the mail, which seemed to be a pretty major event, at least for the person who got to do it. Wandering outside, barn to barn for what seemed like hours, in fact, it was probably only minutes before an encounter with a wayward wasp would send me running back to the safety of the house.
I’d grab a book from the endless pile I’d picked up during a trip to the library with Grandma. When I was older, I’d snag one of her many Harlequin Romance books. My parents and usually an aunt or uncle would tsk that I was inside on such a beautiful day. They just seemed incapable of understanding that it could be a beautiful day inside too.
Sometimes my mind would wander. I’d stare at the door in the living room that didn’t lead anywhere since the veranda outside it was torn down – the veranda that was long gone before my day, but still there in all the old photos. I’d imagine what the house was like then and for whatever reason in my child’s mind, I imagined things would be a whole lot different with a veranda. Maybe it was the soul of the house talking to me, igniting my imagination so it would run wild.
Eventually, I’d tire of the reading and mind games and retreat upstairs for a nap in Grandma’s bed. I remember waking up, and still groggy, walking to the window. The pink curtains were moving slightly in the breeze. I’d look out at the trees and a sadness welled up inside me, knowing one day I would have to leave.
Then I’d push the sad feelings away and simply bask in all the house had to offer – warmth, contentment and safety. Those are the feelings I remember, the true treasures I ended up finding all those summer days at the farm.