Friday, October 8, 2010



I remember my grandparents.

Grandpa Virge in his house on the river. The sound of rushing water muffled by the doors, a shushing hiss coming through the windows. He made jokes and called my mother pet names. His face was tanned and heavily lined, marked by time and days spent fishing under the Idaho sun. I watched the Price is Right with Grandpa Virge and listened to him accurately predict the prices of items, the outcome of the game.

Grandma Norma collected pretty things and kept a room in the house with frilly dolls on the pink bedspread. She served bread & butter pickles with every meal. When I hugged Grandma Norma, she smelled of licorice and roses. Sometimes I was invited to stay at the house overnight with Grandpa Virge and Grandma Norma. I slept in the pink room with the dolls and listened to the sounds of the river weave deeply through my dreams.

Grandpa Condie was rarely without a toothpick in his mouth. If I close my eyes to imagine Grandpa, he stands outside the small apple orchard on the farm. His snow white hair, pushed high off his forehead, rustles slightly with the breeze coming off the back field. Grandpa made sourdough waffles in the small farmhouse kitchen. He woke early to begin the process, cooking each waffle on a small waffle iron, one at a time.

Grandma Condie was the invisible strength behind the farm. A tiny woman. A gentle woman. A quiet force to be reckoned with. I never saw her with a hair out of place. She was well-groomed and beautiful. More often than not, she had the perfect shade of lipstick to match her dress. Grandma kept a box in the basement for her granddaughters. It was filled with old shoes and dresses, small tubes of lipstick and rouge. Tiny bottles empty of their perfume. Grandma baked her own bread until she was in her late eighties.

I think back on these snatches of memories I have of my grandparents and relish their warmth - rubbing my cheeks with their faded soft surface, even as I watch Bean building her own memories of her grandparents.

She has stayed up late, eaten chocolate and cookies, sampled juices of all kinds. Quietly I have closed my eyes and let Grammy and Grampy spoil Bean in their own way. She has eaten ice cream for dinner, cake for dessert. She has been tickled and hugged and kissed. I have watched her crawl into the laps of her grandparents and ask them for different toys, different snacks, different amusements. They have obliged every time. I understand that this is their role. This is what a grandparent does.

Mom invited Bean to pick pears with her the other day. She took Bean's hand in hers and lead her into the backyard, coaching her to carefully place the fruit into a box. Alice's definition of "careful" was a little more forceful than recommended. I winced as each pear was chucked exuberantly into the waiting receptacle. Mom laughed as I apologized. "It's okay. Don't worry about it. She's just fine." Here was Bean, smacking pears together like cymbals. And here was my mom, reaching high on the ladder to gather the last summer fruit, laughing.

This is the gift of a grandparent: their warm presence, their waiting offers of delight and comfort, their willingness to please. Sourdough waffles. The Price is Right. Tiny tubes of lipstick. Frilly dolls on a pink bedspread. And pears---- picking pears in the sunshine.

1 comment:

Bethsix said...

My own grandma Norma was here visiting us this weekend. :)

I want to be a grandmother. Like right now.