I ended the day last Saturday visiting the homes of both sets of my grandparents in Anoka, Minnesota. My parents both grew up in Anoka. I spent a lot of time here in my younger years. I hadn't seen these homes for 20 years. I was nervous. It was a bittersweet moment for me. The memories of my younger parents and grandparents are still running through my mind days later. I knew it would make me sad to see these homes but I felt a strong need to go.
I used to walk through that very door straight into my grandma's kitchen. I can see the inside of that house so clearly. My favorite thing was when my mom and grandma and maybe an aunt or two would gather with a cup of hot coffee around the tiny kitchen table. The table was round and tucked into a corner. There were four bucket chairs that would swivel. The ladies would sit and tell stories. I would crowd in. Usually, being the youngest, I would get to sit in my mom's warm lap. I was mesmerized. The laughter and love was rich.
As kids, we spent so much time outside just playing and exploring, in all seasons, at times only coming inside to eat. I remember the yard and my grandma's enormous garden (which is now grass) as vividly as the inside of the house.
I remember looking at my grandma's hands while at the kitchen table. They were riddled with arthritis but I thought they were beautiful and hardworking. My mom, sister and I would always stay at this house when we visited. My two brothers and dad would stay on the other side of town (only a few minutes away) at the following house. We couldn't all fit in one house.
My parents and grandparents came from very humble beginnings but there was always plenty of love and support. They all traveled down many wonderful and difficult roads in life as we all do.
The journey that came before me was apparent and crystal clear last Saturday. The missing and longing over loss never fades. I remember every square inch of these homes like I was there yesterday.
...swirling memories. It was a touching day in Anoka, worlds away but so close.
p.s. For my brother's 50th birthday gift I printed out about 20 photos of our grandparents' homes and put them in a little photo album to give to him. He is a sweet, nostalgic brother and he loved and studied the photos. I wanted to go to these homes mostly for him so I could show and tell him all about it.