I sat and had tea with Roger's mother (and Roger) last night, and it was so reminiscent of sitting at the kitchen table with my grandmother, I felt a little teary inside. There's a bit of an age difference, so I didn't want to offend her by comparing her, my boyfriend's mom, to my grandmother, even though there's about 15 years difference. Past 80, I think it's fair to stop reminding people they're past 80.

Anyway, it was a cool night, and she likes to make tea, and I ended up awake til 5am but damn if it didn't feel so much like coming home after a long time away. I was pleasantly surprised by this. I guess most times we stop by there's a bunch of folks there, or it's mid-day and her shows are on, but yesterday ended up with just the three of us, and we sat at the old worn out kitchen table* that reminds me of mine, inherited from my own grandparents not that long ago, and had tea.

We talked about Leh's, and she showed us old glasses and bits of advertising on swizzle sticks of places around Allentown, PA that are long gone. She can be a funny lighthearted lady. She can tell a good dirty joke. But she can also be stern. Her grown kids don't cross her. She still runs her house with the long arm of a parent with Presence. She nursed her bedridden husband for four long years before he passed. Her boys are Pretty Good People and very devoted, but also kind and helpful to everyone in general.

And she talked about how she cleaned her floors every day, and dusted all her furniture, with six people in the house every day and that lit me up pretty good. It was my first time really finding a connection with her. I helped her clean her vent grates and we talked about how hard it was to see the quality of our cleaning go downhill for health reasons. It's funny because we had gone so Rog could spend time with her, and I ended up kinda getting this huge nostalgia hug, with bonus bonding.


I think the first time I spent any amount of time with her, almost two years ago, I was a little intimidated. Here I was blowing in off the heels of helping her son's best friend through cancer, and who knows what she thought about what had been going on (and we certainly didn't fill her in), but it didn't seem to matter, and there we sat, this time four of us: me, Rog, his sister Linda, and her, and played some Gin Rummy. I was rusty as hell, but I ended up winning the first game and she the second and all in all it was a good few hours of just sitting and talking and laying down cards. I can't sit for long in a chair, and this was before the second back surgery (though it's not any better now), but it was an easy feeling, one I hadn't been aware I'd missed until I was aware, you know?**


Oh, and the house has bits and bobs in every nook. A row of Scottie dog statues next to a ceramic garlic braid, one that's in everyone's house from a trip to Italy years ago, along with the daughter's amazing paintings, and pictures of weddings and growing kids, stuff crammed in everywhere. It's a home that's been the same family home for an entire lifetime, and it's amazing to me. I've been going there for 2 years, and while I knew right away his family was a good kind, I hadn't seen past to the heart of it, and that is that they were the old-fashioned, close, traditional family unit that somehow stayed together to the end.

In my life our childhood home disappeared at 10, and my closest parent (my dad) moved out of the house we maturated in in our 20s. My mom sold her home and moved states away. There's no childhood home for me. And no one took up the mantle. Not for long. We're all scattered. Trying, but spread thin and getting thinner. Still a family, just... different. Not as close. No bits and bobs.

But there they are, doing The Thing. And it's nice.

Sit down. Have some tea.


*Anne Mollo I'm thinking of you. :)

**My writing skills feel so rusty. I'm also feeling Penna Dutch-y as I'm writing, and I know it's from talking with my nextdoor neighbor awhile today.

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You are a *lovely* writer! I really enjoyed reading this.
Why thank you dear! That was so nice of you to share. :)
Karen 7/3edited
The closest thing I had to a childhood home was the haunted old Victorian we lived in when I was little. My parent spent more years living in the lake house, but I was already 8 when we moved there, and it was all new construction and kind of 70s-ugly. So whenever I think of a childhood home, I think of the Victorian. Or rural Vermont in general, as that was a constant at least.

The funny thing is, even though I wasn't so attached to the lake house, and even though I was living out in the world (in NYC), when they sold that house and moved—it was like a gut punch. I felt so homeless and sad. (And then when my mom died and we finally sold her condo, I felt that way again!)

I've also put my own kids through all kinds of home changes over the years, my oldest daughter living on the east coast and then the west and in a string of rentals until we bought a house and then back to the east coast into this house... She's also the one who still, at 22, gets horribly homesick at times. My other two are much younger and don't remember our house on the west coast very much anymore (though when they were very little, they used to miss the climbing trees in the yard of that house), so this place feels most like home to them. And very belatedly of course I've realized how much it can help kids if you stay put. With my own nomadic upbringing, I actually find that I get a little restless when I've lived in a place for very long. Even this house, now—and it's a wonderful house!—I sometimes fantasize about leaving and going somewhere new.

Thank you for thinking of me. :) Your comment made me actually go back and re-read my own post. I hadn't in fact looked at it as I was reworking it for storytelling, and although I knew I'd had to strip it down to a bare bones presentation, I hadn't realized just how much I'd left out!! Haha. (Also I was surprised that I wrote it way back in February.) Then this morning in the car on the way to my exercise class (ah, VT, where you have to drive everywhere, even to get or stay healthy), I started thinking about how I could turn it into a SciFi short story. I'd start it off with something like, "Growing up on Ganymede..."
I'm in a part of PA that requires driving everywhere as well. You're not alone!

I inadvertently ended up moving every three years from age 10 to 31, so I get the nomad thing, even if it started with my parents and then kept going with me. Where I am now is 12 years strong and the longest I've ever been everywhere. Up to two years ago I was grateful for the stability, but lately I've been feeling that urge to uproot and start over.

And I love this house, and I love the neighborhood (minus some new neighbors), but I get it. I totally get it.
Karen 7/3
"If this isn't nice, I don't know what is."
Thank you for sharing that, and your writing is perfect just as it is.

That is a mighty fine compliment coming from you, Robert. Thank you kindly!
Karen 7/3