Do you remember your grandparents’ house? Can you picture each room and what was inside? It’s funny the little details that stick with us years later.
Just drawing this simple floor plan of my grandma’s house brought up so many memories. There were stories from each room. I’ll give you a tour…
I remember having my first cup of coffee sitting at the kitchen table with grandma. We sat across from one another, looking out her big picture window as we chatted. A little dainty china cup sat in front of me, resting on top of a matching saucer. The set had pink roses on it. I was quite little and just remember grandma putting lots of sugar in my cup.
I remember that grandma used to keep two extra chairs in the kitchen. They were pushed up against the wall between the pantry and the bathroom. It’s where she would put her suitcase when she was packing for a weekend away with us. (Grandma used to go with us to Bemidji and trips to Winnipeg). Her little white poodle, Muffin, would get so worked up about the possibility of her leaving, that she used to sit in or on top of her suitcase.
I remember when our school used to go Christmas caroling through the neighbourhood. We would stop into different places like the hospital or the seniors home, to sing Christmas songs. I would always request that we stop by grandma’s house. I’d quickly run in to say hi to her in the kitchen.
I remember one sleepover where Grandma Beatrice drew me the most luxurious bath. She filled her white tub with lots of bubbles and small purple bath beads that bobbed in the water. Do you remember them? They were such an 80s thing. When the warm water softened them, you could squeeze the plastic like ball between your fingers and warm bath oil would squirt out. They smelled of lavender. I don’t know how old I was, but I remember having the bath alone with the door shut. Grandma was in the kitchen. I felt so grown up.
I remember grandma’s pantry. It was like a large walk-in closet. Each wall was lined floor to ceiling with white shelving. Straight ahead was a washer and dryer. At the bottom left, about three shelves up, was where grandma kept the cereal. I remember eating Golden Grahams which felt like such a treat. I also remember her eating orange marmalade and toast. Sometimes I buy it because it reminds me of her.
I remember sleepovers at grandma’s house.
Grandma had three bedrooms – her room and then two spare bedrooms. One had been a room for the boys (my dad and Uncle Bill), and the other bedroom was for the girls (my Auntie Carolyn and Aunt Bev). Despite there being two spare rooms, with beds fully made, I always slept in grandma’s bed. I think she liked having company. (My Grandpa Johnson passed away when I was 4 years old).
I would sleep closest to the wall. I remember that grandma liked to talk before we went to bed. It might have been for only a few minutes but to me I seem to remember full on conversations. I remember that her little dog, Muffin (a miniature poodle), always slept in the bed with us. She was usually at the foot of the bed and could be heard crunching away on milk bones.
I can remember each piece of furniture in her bedroom. She had multiple dressers lined up against one wall with her jewelry boxes resting on top. I used to sneak into her room and go through her collection. She had a lot of costume jewelry – big, shiny brooches with clusters of colourful fake jewels. She had sparkly earrings and necklaces. I thought she must be rich to have all of these fancy pieces. I would hold them up to my ears and look in the mirror. She had to have known what I was doing but never said a word. There was also a tall dresser near her bedroom door. It always felt like she had some of grandpa’s things in there.
The Living Room
When we went to Grandma’s, I remember spending a lot of time in her living room. As you walked into the room, to the left, she had a collection of little glass figurines lined up on a ledge – little animals, owls, and birds.
Below the shelf, I remember a large boxy leather case that held grandpa’s records. She had a fireplace that wasn’t real. I remember a fake, orange-y glow behind a pile of plastic logs. A chain link curtain hung in front.
Grandma had a large TV. One of those TVs that were encased in wood. Framed photos of family members sat on top and I remember a glass piggy bank in the shape of a burnt orange owl. Each fall, we could dump out the change to have money for rides at the Fall Fair.
Grandma Beatrice had two tall china cabinets. The glass doors would open to a collection of china and glass vases. The cabinets underneath were filled with her crochet work – stacks of doilies and wool. My dad still has her china cabinets. Surrounded by tools, they are out in his shop (garage). He has them filled with books and other things.
In grandma’s living room there was a long oval coffee table that always had a doily on top. Tucked underneath at one end, she kept a wicker basket filled with shells from one of their trips to Florida. I remember a large conch shell with jutting pieces around the outside and a smooth pink inside. When held to your ear, you could hear the rushing sound of the ocean inside. In her basket of shells, I would secretly look for a sand dollar to break open. Grandma once showed us that once you break open the shell, the pieces that fell out looked like small seagulls.
Grandma had a big comfy, squishy sofa that was burnt orange or maybe brown? She had a matching chair in the same colour. I remember being stretched out on that couch when I was sick with chicken pox. Grandma took care of my brother and I, dabbing our spots with calamine lotion and letting us watch endless hours of TV.
We watched lots of soap operas at grandma’s house. She had a whole line up of favourites – All My Children, General Hospital, One Life to Live… She liked when we watched them with her.
She also had a lamp that sat next to the couch on a coffee table. It had large teardrop crystals hanging down around the base of the shade. I used to slide them off and pretend they were fancy earrings.
Off of grandma’s living room was a screened in porch. The only thing out there was a very large white deep freezer. I only remember going out there when family was over. It was where she kept the ice cream pails full of monster cookies that she had baked.
When I think of grandma’s yard, I think of 6 things: Grandpa’s woodworking shop, the garden, her wishing well, the bird hotel, her plastic planters scattered around the yard filled with begonias, and her lilac tree.
I remember the garage having a space to park a vehicle on the left, but on the right you could walk through a door into grandpa’s workshop. It smelled of freshly cut wood. It was a long narrow room that stretched to the back. There was a work bench that ran along the wall beneath the windows. There was a blue vice on the workbench. We would play turning the arm around and around to close the gap. We always got in trouble for playing with it. I remember there being a little wood burning stove in there too. He had lots of tools and a table and other projects at the back. I should ask dad more about it.
I never remember grandma being in there. It was grandpa’s shop. He made furniture and other odds and ends.
Grandma had a HUGE garden. I remember the taste of tart raspberries that we would pick off of the bushes that towered above us. I remember pulling carrots from the soil and washing them off at the outside tap on her house – near the driveway. I remember taking a bite, despite the flecks of dark earth – the strong pungent taste of a good earthy carrot.
The Wishing Well
Grandma had a wishing well. You could turn a handle and the bucket would move up and down. I don’t know if it actually served a purpose but we were always warned to stay away from it. It was made of wood with a circular base, composed of stacked pieces of wood that wrapped around. I think it was red and white. It had a little roof up above. It looked like the wishing well from Jack and Jill. I think grandpa built it.
The Bird Hotel
She also had a bird feeder called The Bird Hotel. Grandpa had made it to look like a motel with many holes to represent the different rooms available. A little sign sat on top that said The Bird Hotel. It sat in the middle of her yard, up on a high pole.
Grandma had white plastic planters that were scattered around her yard – some in the shape of swans and others deer. I remember them filled with pink begonias.
The Lilac Tree
I loved her lilacs. A row of lilac trees sat at the end of her driveway near the road. I would snap off a few branches and bring them into the house to rest in a vase. The sweet smell filled her little white and brown house.
It was fun to draw grandma’s house. You should try drawing your grandparent’s house sometime! You will be surprised to see how many memories and stories it evokes.