The photo above is of my Dad holding me, my sister and my brother circa the Summer of 1965. He looks so young! I'm the very tan little girl on the left. The photo was taken at our grandparents house off Tampico Road in Corvallis, Oregon. We have so many fond memories of Sunday dinners spent there over the years. I used to spend a week or two with them every summer. My grandma would teach me to knit or crochet or sew or bake on any given visit. I loved being there and soaking up her nurturing spirit. One of my favorite memories is of her letting me sit on her lap in a comfy recliner while she read me a story, while simultaneously scratching my back! Oh, how I loved that! Backscratching is a family tradition now. My grandson Evan, who is almost 3, will pull up his shirt, turn around and back up to me. It is an unspoken wish that I will then scratch his back. Of course his wish is granted. I think I like it more than he does just for the sweet memory.
Our grandparents lived near the end of long dirt road in the country near Camp Adair outside of Corvallis. Their simple ranch style house sat up on small hill. Their garage was an old ammunition hut set into the bottom of the hill---part of the WWII era. The area always smelled like the many old Oak trees that surrounded their house. I still love that smell. Damp and earthy. They had a natural fed spring for water with a little trench and a hose that ran into the house. My Grandpa made his own golf driving range in a field next to the house. We called it the "Golf Course". Grandpa loved golfing and bowling and watching the stock market later on in life. Instead of picking up the mail and newspaper when he arrived home from work, my Grandpa would drive his car down the long road and walk back to get them. I guess it was for the exercise or maybe just the solitude. I would occasionally take that walk with him and I would pick blackberries along the way. There was a nice pond at the end of the road that I always liked to look at. I never really knew if my Grandpa really wanted me tagging along or if my Grandma had had enough of me that day and forced him to take me! But I enjoyed my time with him nonetheless. He wasn't nearly as demonstrative as Grandma and you always wondered if he really wanted you around. He was loving in his own way and was easier to understand when I got older. My sister and I often comment on how our lives would have been so different if not for the guidance, love and attention we received from our grandparents.
Grandma had a way of making you feel special but she didn't put up with any "nonsense" either. Loving but firm. She had a wooden paddle in the shape of a hand on top of her refrigerator. We were deathly afraid of it even though I don't think it was ever put to any use. All she had to say was, "Do you want me to get The Hand?" I don't think we disobeyed her much but we had our moments. My brother and I made her cry once when we disobeyed strict orders to not pick her Pampas Grass plumes. They were pretty irresistible because they looked like a giant white feather. I think we were 5 or 6 then. Oh, seeing my Grandma cry broke my heart. I don't think we could apologize enough. She loved her garden and plants around the yard. As I get older I see the value in all that she taught us and I try to be to my grandchildren what she once was to me. I always remember how smart she was when it was one of our birthdays. She would bake the cake herself....always beautiful. You would always get a home cooked meal of your choice. Mine was always Pot Roast. She would have several gifts for the birthday girl/boy and would also give one small gift to the other two so there would be no jealousy or hurt feelings to spoil the party. She made us all feel special.
Every time I smell Folgers Coffee it takes me back to early mornings at Grandma's. She had a percolator and I loved the sound of that thing and it smelled wonderful! My sister and I once told her about the smell of that coffee and what it meant to us....she just said, "Oh, you girls. The things you remember!" I secretly think she liked it. We always told her how much she meant to us and I think she treasured that. I'm glad we told her because I think it made her happy to know how much we appreciated them when we were growing up.
I was originally going to write about getting older and how you can't go back to your younger days no matter how much you'd like to. Getting older stinks sometimes but it also has it's rewards, like children,grandchildren and hopefully you gain some wisdom for your efforts. My sister and I were just talking about how we wished we looked like we did when were younger (or better) and I said that no matter how much weight we lose or how stylishly our hair is cut we will never be that young again or ever look as good as we did back then. I don't think she liked my assessment of the current situation. It's a sad realization that those days are gone. We're not "old" yet but we're getting there more quickly than we ever thought possible! Time flies! I guess all we can do is try to treasure our memories of youth, appreciate our lives for what they are now and realize that time does change things but it also has it's own gifts to give. I treasure all three of my children and my three grandchildren. I like watching them all grow and change. I love spending time with them. I'm blessed with kids that I like to be around and I'm even more blessed that they like to spend time with me. I treasure my sister, she is my best friend. She understands how I feel because she feels it too. We've been through a lot together and consider our times spent talking together as "therapy". We have a Mother who made having a wonderful Grandma a necessity (and blessing) but that is another long post that I will probably never write. I treasure my husband but I don't think he knows how much I do. I have some work to do there! I have a great family. We are all close and get along well. I may not ever be that young, cute girl ever again but I have something much better now. A life well lived and so much more ahead of me that I'm looking forward to. Thank you Grandma and Grandpa for all your love, guidance and support.
Thanks for reading this long post! Please comment and tell me your memories of your special Grandparents. I'd love to read them.