Monday, February 11, 2008

My Childhood Home

Gosh, it would be great to be home again just for a day—I mean home to where I grew up. My grandpa’s orchard separated my childhood home and his. Both great-grandmothers lived near us too. I’d pick the dandelions from their lawns and they’d give me fluffy vanilla wafers or hard candies ‘older than the hills’.

My great-grandfathers suffered through the crux of the Great Depression with their young families and they both passed on in my tender years. Death was welcomed for my great-grandmothers, whom I visited often after grammar school. They’d always ask, “What did you learn today?” and I would respond, “Nothin’.” The trend has continued with my children; the response is the same.

At 5-years-old I apprehensively mounted the steer we named ‘Bucky’ for obvious reasons. Like a world champion bull rider I held on for longer than eight seconds, even though I think I cried.

My grandpa chastised us more than once for chasing the chickens.

Grandpa got married then went off to fight the Germans in World War II. I think my grandma was even pregnant at the time with my eldest aunt…or she was just a baby. I’ve often wished I could read his memoirs—journal entries or letters he wrote home. I wonder how war and separation from his true love felt for him. Likely the same as the homesickness I feel now, I suppose.

In the attic he built above his garage there were German military helmets, a bayonet and some old wool uniforms. I’d often rummage through the antiques by myself after wandering around looking for something to do besides playing in the sand box, shooting arrows into the bales of hey or bouncing on my uncle’s trampoline with my cousin—a stark contrast from today’s computer generation.

Stopping in for grandma’s homemade bread was a must. Umm, I can smell it now. (Again, by contrast, the chow hall here literally stinks when you open the doors. I’ve always found that odd, but maybe that’s the reason my stomach has been upset the past few days.) She’d toast it. The butter would melt and she’d top it with her homemade raspberry jam—the same raspberries I helped pick from her garden. Just the thought of real food, homemade and unprocessed, makes me salivate like Pavlov’s dog.

My grandma died years ago, and my grandpa died many years before while I was stuck in an Army training. They said they wouldn’t let me go to his funeral on emergency leave since he wasn’t an immediate family member, though he was my hero and like a dad to me. That was painful.

Grandpa built his house, the house we lived in and other homes. He also built our cabin. Oh, how I’d love to go to the cabin. We’d fish, we’d hike. We would catch lizards and snakes, and go shooting. In the winter, we’d go skiing at the local ski resorts and spend the night at the cabin. Most of all, we would just enjoy being together as family—cousins, aunts and uncles, etc. That’s the most important part of life: family.

I sure wish I could be with my family at the cabin—or anywhere for that matter. I could joke around with my siblings and their families. We could laugh and play games. And I could hike up the mountains with my kids and go tubing down the river with my wife again.

1 comment:

atzmaut said...

You are there in spirit and that is what counts.

Eloquent blogging. Stay safe.