Monday, July 27, 2009

My Grandma's House

My Grandma loved her church.

She loved welcoming us into her home in the country, standing at her blue painted front door, graciously giving out hugs and "I wuv u's" to all of us grandkids. I haven't stepped inside her home for several years. When she moved into the nursing home, my mom and uncle were able to sell her house to eight members of my Grandma's church. They rented it to various tenants.

My Grandma's house was situated on acres of Oklahoma farmland. It was beautiful to this Oklahoma girl's eyes. There were chicken coops, hay barns, water troughs, a windmill, bird houses, red clay creekbeds winding for miles it seemed, leading to treasure troves of antique finds, acres of pastureland to explore. . . heaven on earth for this city girl and her little brother. Breakfasts of musk melon and toast with sorghum molasses, long summer walks with my Grandma through pastures to find treasures, old glass bottles or tools, we never knew what we might happen upon. Climbing down the steps into the damp basement to help with weighing eggs, or canning. Dinners of fried okra, sleeping upstairs with the windows open, watching and listening for the birds as the sun came up.

One of her bibles, with her name inscribed on the front, has been my treasure since she passed away several years ago. I'm always finding words she had written alongside and verses underlined. The embroidered birds I shared with you in a previous post were lovingly stitched by her hands.

We were in Oklahoma for a family reunion yesterday. On the way home, I decided to drive by my Grandma's house. I knew she gave some of her land to her church. I didn't realize they had already completed their new building across the pasture from her home. All of the creek beds were leveled and the trees were gone. The barns and windmill had disappeared as if some hand had brushed over the surface of the land. On a whim, I turned into her driveway. There was a man there removing the garage door. "They're tearing the house down tomorrow, so they wanted me to remove the door today", he says as we approach. Evidently black mold has made the home unlivable and so the church has decided to tear it down to build a parking lot.

It was like stepping into a moment in time that was meant to be. Walking into her home still filled with memories and love, tears filled my eyes as I ran my hand over the walls and doorways, remembering days and moments, sights and smells. I watched my own kids look around with awe, the realization of the history and meaning our memories held shining in their eyes. Members of the church had already removed all of the glass doorknobs. Dust and cobwebs filled the window sills and corners. Upstairs we found sloppily painted purple walls, and a poem painted into the closet where as children, we had played with the same antique toys enjoyed by my mom and uncle, left for a new generation of kids to discover.

Wanting to take something of these long lost memories with us to hold and keep, we were able to remove some handles from her cabinets, a window from the front door, and two beautiful solid wood doors. I know my Grandma would love the fact that people from miles around are worshiping God on her land. I know she isn't holding onto her home any longer. It's not needed where she is, but my heart still aches a little as I let go of it today.

My grandma loved her church. I hope the church treasures her gift for generations to come. (They'd better. I wonder how long this parking lot has been planned? Sorry, just the cynic coming out in me.)

p.s. Can you believe I forgot to take a picture? When I find an old one to scan I'll add it here!


Joni said...

What a beautiful trail of memories to read this morning. I can imagine the bittersweet realization you felt to see all the changes. I love that you were able to keep parts of her home and make them yours...grandmothers are so very special in their own unique way and what a nice feeing to be able to read and share in part of your leaves a nice cozy feeling in my heart.

Sally said...

Oh Karen, what a beautiful post. I'm so glad you were able to be there and take home some keepsakes from your beloved grandmother's house. I can fully appreciate the memories as I have mine also. I remember the first time I went "over home" to see that the Big House was gone, and still to this day when I drive by, it hurts my heart but I try to remember the wonderful, beautiful times with my only grandparent "Big Mama". It sounds like your grandmother loved her church as much as mine did! :)

kimberly said...

beautiful karen....i so remember going to my grandma's "big old" house a couple hours from here, when i was little.....chicken coops, gardens, cottonwood trees, button box, piano, all kinds of places to hide and seek....and popsicles in the old freezer waiting just for me and my cousin!
wonderful you were able to have some physical memories to look on....i would have loved that...but i can certainly recall them in my mind also!
thanks for sharing.

A Bite of Country Cupcakes said...

Sounds like a wonderful Mind store of memories and a wonderful woman