Monday, June 26, 2006

To Grandmother’s House We Go

Forty-five years is a long time not to know each other. But there we were, strangely familiar to each other, connected by strong genes and a family history, once again in our grandparents' house. It seemed much the same, now 38 years since our grandmother's death and 38 years since another family began calling the house "home." Their family had grown up here, new children called it "grandmother's house," yet with much unchanged we were able to slip back in time. Our aunt once again filled the house with beautiful sounds of her piano playing. We sang "Great is Thy Faithfulness"––indeed a theme of our family.

A new generation of children tumbled outside on the lawn, teenagers talked on the porch, my twin cousins stood in the paneled library where for hours we had read our grandmother's books. Down in the basement we remembered ping-pong games and a special birthday party.

We took turns taking our pictures at the kitchen sink where we remembered our grandmother best. Large ferns graced the dining room windows where Grandmother's ferns had also flourished. I looked at my mother standing in a dining room virtually unchanged by the years. I knew she was back at family dinners––Thanksgiving, Christmas, birthdays––strongly missing many at the table whose places would now be empty.

For a brief 90 minutes the house had become ours again, graciously enabled by the second and current owners of the home our grandfather so beautifully built. We were given the gift of going back in time and reliving childhood memories because they too understood family and the importance of a home filled with memories. All around were cousins, aunts and an uncle---just as it had been so many years ago. What an amazing experience. We told secrets, explored our favorite hiding places, shared stories, and loved on each other, spurred on by memories tucked in every nook and cranny.

But then it was time to go. The grand piano was really a spinet, the library cuckoo clock was silent and no chimes sounded from a grandfather clock in the front hall. Slowly we came back to the present, wiped back tears, and said good-bye, ending a two-day cousin family reunion, each of us profoundly affected. It is time to get back to the present, but we will not forget the gift we had been given that hot June day.

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