Posts Tagged With: Grandaddy

Grandaddy’s house

I grew up in this house.
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I always consider this my home, but never actually call it “home”. I only ever call it “Grandaddy’s house”.
My room was the window above the porch and the first one on the side of the house.

Grandaddy and my grandmother moved to this house from N Barton Street in Arlington when my mom was three or four. So that was 1947 or 1948. It was built in Falls Church. A post war, GI bill-sort of neighborhood called Tyler Park. The house is on the corner of a street with a big hill and a relatively flat street that dead ends into a church.

It was a great neighborhood to grow up in. We rode our bikes all around, up and down the hills. We played touch football and kickball and soccer on the open lawn of the church. We played on the playground and sledded down the hill at Tyler Park. Later on, when I was in middle school, it even had one of those brown Fairfax County Park Authority signs. (Why did I remember that?)

Last Saturday, YBW and I had an errand day that took us farther from home than normal. It started with me craving arepas on Friday. The closest Venezuelan joint is in Falls Church so I created an entire day around eating this food.
Saturday took us to Tiffany’s to leave my bracelet to have the new charm attached. Then to the jeweler to see about sorting the fact that my wedding ring is a teeny smitch smaller than my engagement ring. The goldsmith was precious and assured me it would be perfect when he was finished.

Since we were in Falls Church, I decided to take YBW to where I grew up. I know where he grew up, my girls went to the elementary school literally across the street. I’ve been there and seen the addition and listened to his stories. Even tried to find his family’s hand prints in the concrete of the end of the driveway apron addition.
I love that feeling of seeing and beginning to understand where he comes from.
It was time for us to experience that with my early life.

I told stories of landmarks that are gone or of new ones that sprang up as we drove from the actual City of Falls Church into Fairfax County but still ‘Falls Church’. I was amazed how excited I was to share my young life with him! This is where I went to second and third grade before they closed the school. It was Fairfax County’s Child Find building when I was last in this area. (About ten years ago.) But now, it has beautiful new additions and is a much needed elementary school once again.
Careful, the turn you want is on the curve in the road right across from that huge stone wall…

I forgot how narrow the streets are in Tyler Park. These mostly are yards with no driveways, so cars park on both sides of the street. So many of the little cape cods have been built out into huge living spaces to accommodate the large families now residing in them.

When we got to the top of the hill there was a car behind us and we couldn’t stop to look at Grandaddy’s house so he listened while I talked and we went down towards the church to turn around.
This is where my friend Jennie lived. Her mom left their family. It was a big deal in the late 1970s. Her grandmother still lives up the street across from the park.
Oh look! We used to sled on that same hill!! Hmm. I remember it bigger.

Here’s Grandaddy’s house now.
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That whole bit in the back of the house is an addition. The original house stopped where the roofline changes pitch. It struck me as interesting that the new owners built this huge addition but left the original metal casement windows.

I have great sadness that all the beautiful trees are gone. Two huge maple trees in the front yard. The one on the left of the sidewalk I could climb high enough that I could see all the way down the hill to Graham Road. The apple tree in the side yard that had long ago stopped producing apples but stood beautiful and proud anyway. All the gorgeous flowering shrubs. Mock orange and azaleas and hydrangeas. Pampas grass, forsythia, and flowering vines along the fence in the side yard. The sweet shrub and hosta that flourished in the shade along the left side of the house.

Here’s the house from the front. You can see where the porch used to be. There are two windows upstairs on the front of the house now.
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I could see people moving around inside through the storm door. I teased YBW they were feeling a whole lot of WTF? that I was leaning out the car window taking photos with my phone.
Honestly there was a part of me that wanted to boldly knock on the door, explain I grew up there and ask to be let in to look around. I didn’t though. Partly because of the language barrier. Partly because I wasn’t sure I could bear it.
I have wonderful happy memories of growing up and being loved in that house. But that was when it was Grandaddy’s house, and it’s not really his anymore. Hasn’t been since 1992.
It belongs to those new people. And with my whole heart, I hope they’re having a wonderful life there.

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Categories: me | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

for this is the recipe of love

I found this when I was going through my mother’s things.
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It’s my Grandaddy’s handwriting. I’d recognize it anywhere.
I suspect it’s the toast he made at my parents wedding.
Now, my parents were an ill suited match, but they made me so I’m not going to complain. They were terribly unhappy together, and after my father left us, Mommie remained unhappy deep in her soul. Perhaps that unhappiness came to her when her mother died. I don’t know. I just know that it seemed to me that even though she would express real joy, she was always miserable down in her soul.

Grandaddy didn’t especially like my dad…but that could have been for any number of reasons.
My dad was only likable when he chose to be. Most times he was a right bastard. Of course, a childhood of abuse and a lifetime of hiding his sexual orientation contributed to that.

Grandaddy was a grumpy old thing. But he was helping to raise kids in his sixties and seventies. Oh! How I adored him. He was the first man I ever fell in love with. And quite possibly he was in love with me more than he had ever been with my mom. I think she knew it. I think she was jealous of that love. But, I don’t really care. That love was sacred and nothing will ever change that.

I’m being tangential as all get out…this post started out differently in my head…I’m going to try and make my way back to the reason I’m sharing this photo.

YBW and I have asked my niece, Girlie Thing, to read this at our wedding. Sundance was with me when I found the tiny envelope with Grandaddy’s writing. I knew then I wanted it to be a part of our wedding day.

As I go through the invitation and response lists, I realize my only blood family is Thing 1 and Thing 2. The family I made: Sundance and her babies, my darling friend in Arizona and her family, my friend and mentor, and my former husband’s little sister and her family, will be with me the day I wed the man I waited forty-four years to marry.
I have great sadness that Mommie never even met YBW. That my dad didn’t live long enough to be a part of this day, he adored YBW and our relationship.
My sadness about Grandaddy isn’t so much that he won’t know YBW or be at our wedding, it’s more that everyday missing him that resides deep in my heart.

All this said, I have wonderful people that I love who will celebrate with us on October 24. But with this tiny envelope, a bit of my parents and Grandaddy will be with me too. And that makes my heart happy.

Perhaps that’s the recipe of love…
The family from which you come mixed with the friends who become your family and a dollop of your own babies on top. I’ll mix these with YBW’s family. The one from which he came and his fraternity brothers who became his family and a dollop of his babies.

Whatever the recipe, I am chock-full of love. I’m grateful for those who taught me to love when I was a little girl. For those whom I befriended and taught me how to expand my love. For the man who showed me that love was something I never even imagined. And for the gifts of daughters who taught me new and awe-inspiring ways to love.

Categories: love, wedding | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

#itsallminenowbitches!

I finally started going through the boxes from my mom’s. I’ve found photos from when my mom was a little girl, when Grandaddy was still in the Navy looking so handsome in his whites. I especially love a photo of the two of them in the side yard of the house where we (she and then years later, I) grew up.
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I opened a box that turned out to be filled with framed photographs. The very top one I opened was this one of my mom. It hung above Grandaddy’s chair ever since I can remember. I wore this dress to homecoming one year. I asked her husband about this photo specifically and he was unsure about it’s whereabouts. I opened the box and unwrapped the very first photo and said: SCORE! (I said this out loud even though I was alone in the room.)
I immediately texted this pic to Sundace with the following: #itsminenowbitches!
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I never use hashtags, but this seemed the perfect way to express my satisfaction.

I’ve mostly smiled and laughed at the items I’ve unpacked but there was one thing that brought me tears. It may seem silly, but it was Grandaddy’s wallet. Exactly the same as it was when he died in 1992. Filled with pics of my little brother and me.
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His “Washington Shopping Plate”, a sky blue credit card that was accepted by:
Hecht’s
Jelleff’s
Kann’s
Labsburgh’s
Raleigh’s
Woodie’s
Garfinkel’s
His Bloomingdale’s card.
(Can you tell he and I liked to go shopping together?)

His driver’s license was still in his wallet, expiring in 1993 at the mark of his eightieth year of life. Unfortunately he didn’t make it to his birthday that year.

Until Thing 2 was moved into the NICU before she was even eight hours old, the worst day of my life was the day we buried my beloved Grandaddy. I miss him every single day. He was the first man I ever loved. I was mad about him and from the stories, he was just as mad about me. Not a day goes by that I don’t treasure what he taught me, the love he gave me, I’ve carried with me my whole life.

I sat on a little wicker and wooden stool all day yesterday and for a few hours this morning going through boxes, setting aside items for Thing 1 and Thing 2. I called Thing 1 when I discovered the long lost recipe for apple butter and she laughed and cried at the same time.
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I saved all the old recipe boxes for her. Her love of cooking will be furthered by the recipes of her grandmother and great grandmother.

I’m dead tired but I’m excited to see what’s next. Perhaps a box or two each day until they’re all unpacked.
I’m waiting for the thing I want most…the flag from Grandaddy’s coffin. It’s in there somewhere…and it’s mine.
It’s ALL mine now!

Categories: love, me | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

the little things mean the most

I went to Richmond yesterday to pick up my mother’s things from her husband. These include ‘family’ things from my mother’s maternal and paternal families, as well as things that belonged specifically my beloved Grandaddy, and all the photographic evidence of the first fifteen years of my life.
I peeked in some of the boxes as YBW and I brought them into the house and the item that brought me sobbing tears of joy was Grandaddy’s bible.

Grandaddy's bible

Grandaddy’s bible

Inside there are pictures of my grandmother and Mommie when she was a little girl, these photos have been in his bible ever since I can remember…of course they’ve most likely been there since they were developed in the 50’s.
I guess it doesn’t really matter how long they’ve actually been in there because they’re still there now and they are mine.
My delight is immeasurable!

Bettye and Mary E

Bettye and Mary E

Categories: love, me | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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