June 9, 2011 by Nicole
Some of the best memories I have are the summer vacations I had at my grandparents’ house in Muskegon. I remember things like feeding peanut butter from a rubber spatula to a fat and fearless squirrel, going to the flea market and the farmers market over on Yuba Street with my grandma, and “going bumming” around town to the mall. Sometimes we’d go to eat at my great aunt’s restaurant, or spend the day hanging out to the cottage on Bear Lake. There were road trips to Frankenmuth in the Oldsmobile stationwagon, and of course, no summer would be complete without heading out to PJ Hoffmaster State Park to see the taxidermy raccoon in the basement of the nature center or climbing all the way up the staircase that took you to the top of the dune to look out over Lake Michigan. And, I even rode the wooden roller coaster at Michigan’s Adventure with my grandma, who at the time was in her 70s.
Yesterday was a bittersweet day, however; my grandma, now 95 years old, will be moving soon into a new home where she will be much closer to my aunts house, and thus, in a much safer situation. At present, she has been living alone since my grandfather passed away in 2003. And, yesterday afternoon, my aunt, mother, one of my sisters, my husband and I spent the afternoon emptying out the house and preparing to get it ready to go on the market.
The situation was surreal; in the course of emptying out the house, all of us took the things that we wanted to take with us–things that my grandma would not need or things she didn’t want to take with her, and I can tell you that she wanted all of us to take anything we wanted. The things I now have are family treasures– my grandfather’s Bible he received from his masonic order, a few old pocket watches, and an antique wooden desk chair, among other things. My favorite aquisitons are the myriad pieces of old jewelry–some of it cheap costume accessories, and some of it more valuable pieces–all of which remind me of one of my favorite things to do when I visited my grandparents: dig around in Grandma’s jewelry drawer and wear as much as I could. Around the age of 10, this makes a girl feel gorgeous, you see. 🙂
If I were able, I think I would have saved everything: the house, the furnature, the yard, and most especially–that particular scent that always pervades the house when you walk in the back door and hear your grandma holler “Helllloooo!” when she hears you arrive at her house. The house, and many of the houses in that area, were built by my great-grandfather, who immigrated to the United States at the turn of the century; the house and property was a wedding gift to my grandma and grandpa when they married in 1939, and Grandma has lived in that house for nearly 72 years. The house in which my grandma and her two sisters grew up and in which her parents lived still sits right next door, and the house in which my great-great-grandparents lived still sits in the yard directly behind her house. The neighborhood corner grocery store, owned by my great-grandparents and then by my own grandparents, still stands on the corner. There are a lot of “roots” on that block, and it’s hard to think that soon, that house will go on the market and strangers will move into that house.
On one hand, I am extremely thankful that she’s moving to a safer house where she will be living five minutes away from my aunt and uncle, who have taken such good care of her (she lives the closest). On the other hand, I think that this is how I know I’m definately not a kid anymore–I can’t go to “Grandma’s house” in the summer anymore. It’s the end of an era.