Thursday, December 17, 2009

Papa's House

In the 1950's, my Grandparents bought a house in Slavic Village to raise their family. Three kids grew up there, they had pets there, snuck out at night from there, grandkids gathered there every Sunday--one even lived there when he was first born,and my Grandma passed away there. The house hasn't been the same since that day. Now I'm not going to paint a rosy picture of a loving family playing Scrabble around the dining room table each week. That was not us. You see this side of my family thrived on bickering. Supposedly in a playful manner because there was always laughter, but usually someones feeling were hurt at the end of the day (mainly my Grandma since she could dish it, but not take it). The grandkids would run in circles from living room, to kitchen, to dining room eating the spaghetti (my cousin Terri wouldn't eat anything else) and thumbprint cookies (my Grandma had to hide them from cousin Tommy or he'd eat them all) Grandma Neiman made. Once we grew up, we'd go upstairs and talk to each other through the big wall registers and play with the glass doorknobs or hang out on the back porch listening to music in our teenage years. It was what we did every Sunday. Times changed. Kids grew up and had "better" things to do on a Sunday afternoon. My Uncle Bob moved to Texas. I can't even tell you for sure the last time we were all together in that house, but it might have been for my Grandparents 50th wedding anniversary. I know my Dad and I shared a few drinks on the back porch that day. Come to think of it, if Dad and I were drinking then the whole family MUST have been there! A lot of us gathered there when my Grandma took ill and was confined to bed. I was unemployed at the time (and, looking back, was glad I spent the last few weeks of her life with her.) I will never forget the day I was laying in bed with her and she started talking about how she wanted her funeral to be. I asked careful questions and filed it away. It was a difficult conversation to have, but I'm glad she trusted that I would get it right for her. I never shed a tear or choked up, I just kept asking exactly what she wanted. Once she fell asleep, I got up, walked out of the room and promptly fell apart. After that day, there was really no joy for me in that house. Despite a changed neighborhood, my Grandpa held his ground and was not leaving his home until he physically couldn't stay there anymore. That happened this past May. It was an unceremonious ending. He fell in his living room, my mom took him to the ER, and he never went back. Our family has this tradition of driving by a loved one's home when they pass away. When we make that drive with my Grandpa someday it will be that much harder because that house is no longer our families home. Today is the last time someone in the Neiman family locked the door. Tomorrow a new family moves in. It is hard to imagine anyone else walking up those stairs, or washing dishes at the kitchen sink. May our memories live on in those walls and may another family make good memories there.

1 comment:

DianeS said...

Oh, Shelley,you made me cry talking about lying in bed with your Grandma.

I have such fond memories of my maternal grandparents and their house. For years I have wanted to go knock on the door and ask the folks who now live there if I could see the place.