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December 28, 2012

My Grandma hopes to move into an independent living place that is attached to an assisted living place. We checked it out last spring and loved that it had a movie theater and yoga classes, but mostly we love it now because two of my Grandma’s sisters live there. For now she’s on the waiting list and the waiting list isn’t budging. That means she stays in her home of so many years and doesn’t really get to know when things will change.

Maybe this was the last Christmas Day in that house, maybe it wasn’t. We don’t know yet, and still I tried to decide if I should cry or not. I went downstairs, to the basement with the ping pong table, by myself at one point and stood looking around. I could hear the mumbling of conversation above me, through the floor. An occasional burst of laughter and the stomping quick-feet of the many kids. We have spent so many hours down in that basement, my cousins and my sister and I. Until the year we got our first Nintendo anyway, we played ping pong so much of the time. Then it was Duck Hunt and Mario Bros in the kitchen on the small TV so people could still watch the other TV in the living room.

Puzzles and cribbage, lefse and lutefisk. Cookies and Uncle Tom’s pumpkin pie.

Glasses with Smurfs on them, even those still exist at Grandma’s house right above the homemade bread.

I wanted to cry because when life starts to shift, that’s what I do. And I wanted to cry because the truth of the matter is that this house will one day be forgotten. Just like we have no idea what life was like for the generations long before us. We only catch glimpses through spoken memories or an occasional uncovered old photo. I want to remember. I want my kids to remember. So I want to cry, but then I’m struck with the idea that this house and all of its times are in all of us, moving forward in time, always.

My Grandpa was always in the same chair, reclined mostly and often snoring. The house isn’t the same without him in it with Grandma, but it’s still the same house with all of the memories of all the years. My Dad lived in that house when he started dating my mom. High school sweethearts. He walked to school and now Grandma still walks downtown, just three blocks or so, for her mail and for groceries.

One year my Grandma threw the Christmas tree right out the front door and onto the lawn, ornaments flying here and there. That’s another story but what it tells you for now is how you really shouldn’t mess with my Grandma but you should know her because she’s wise and full of joy despite all odds.

We’re going to miss that house, its wood floors, the clothes chute and that basement wall we were allowed to imprint with the sides of our ping pong paddles. We don’t get to know right now when it is that we’ll be in it for the last time, and that’s okay. Grandma, wherever you are, that’s where we’ll go.

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

MurdocksMama December 28, 2012 at 12:41 pm

Awesome, awesome post. Made me think of so many memories in my own grandma’s house.
MurdocksMama recently posted..Joynt Family Christmas Photo

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deb colarossi December 28, 2012 at 1:16 pm

Tears here for your love, these lives, this living.
xoxo
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Lynda December 28, 2012 at 1:52 pm

What a blessing to have lived in the same house for so many years. The memories will be in your heart forever.
Lynda recently posted..#13 ~ If you’re keeping secrets, you’re not living God’s plan

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Shannon December 28, 2012 at 3:24 pm

All of my grandparents have passed and I miss them dearly. I was unprepared for how much I would miss their houses. These were the places of my youth! I even named my blog after one of those places.
So, I get where you are coming from, but, rest assured, the memories remain with you.
Shannon recently posted..The Holidays WIth My People

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Jennifer Peterson December 28, 2012 at 4:42 pm

Gulp!!! Tears I can feel your pain… My husbands grandfather died this last yr and my grandma isn’t doing well. Prayers for you and your family!

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Lynda M O December 28, 2012 at 7:58 pm

My grands are all dead now too and it seems so long since we were together in the deep deep snow of Minnesota’s Christmas. Games of cards, sledding, skating, sharing secrets only cousins will keep…

Thanks for the memories, Heather.
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Diane Turner December 29, 2012 at 11:48 pm

Poignant and beautiful. Memories to live forever in your heart. Thanks for sharing.

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Barbara December 30, 2012 at 12:24 am

I’m in this same place, except with my parents. This was probably the last Christmas spent in my childhood home. It’s a woolly feeling, that’s for sure.
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Thekitchwitch December 30, 2012 at 10:11 am

What a lovely tribute to a house that’s filled with memories. It’s true, though, houses you’ve made so many memories in seem like a living, breathing thing.
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rebecca @ altared spaces December 31, 2012 at 7:04 am

I cry too. All the time. Yesterday my husband was sick, and when he got home from a long day at work, I cried and apologized that I would cry when he wasn’t feeling well. His response, “Oh, Darlin’, I like it when you cry. It’s so familiar. It feels like home.”

Crying helps me welcome the familiar, grieve what’s leaving, and put things in their places. It’s just my way.
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tracy@sellabitmum December 31, 2012 at 7:57 am

I still drive by and sit for a moment in front of my grandparent’s home when I go up to Duluth. My grandma died in 2006 and my grandpa in 2009…and their home will always hold some of the best memories of my childhood.
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Marnie December 31, 2012 at 5:01 pm

Oh gosh, this made me ache for my grandparent’s house on Circle Lake in Minnesota. It has been – what – 23 years since I was there? They both passed by the time I was 13 but I can still smell that basement and see the light glinting off of the jars of canned pickles she had stored down there. Thanks for the walk down memory lane.
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