The Prodigal Child

Prompt from the Toasted Cheese Twitter:  “Write about returning to somewhere you havent been for a while.”

Growing up, my family moved around (what seemed like) a lot.  Every couple of years, a new house, new neighbors and friends and a new school.  One place always remained unchanged–my grandparents’ house.  I haven’t been there in years; they moved in 2001 to a bigger house which they shared with my great-grandparents.  I don’t see myself ever going back to that house and even if I did and managed to convince the people living there to let me in for a nose around, I know it wouldn’t be the same.  

But I still remember that house like the back of my hand–I essentially grew up there and have some very vivid memories from that place.

We never really entered the home through the front door; we always used the side door which led straight into the kitchen… washer and dryer immediately on the right and on the left was a hutch with all sorts of breakables that I wasn’t allowed to get into.  The microwave was on the left as well–they still have the same one after all of these years!!  Then of course there was the table, also on the left.  They used to keep a small tv with the antennas on the end of the table so they could watch the local news with dinner.  I remember turning the dials and trying to find things to watch while I was bored.  There were only five channels that came in on it!

The sink and counter space and fridge were on the right with a window over the sink looking into the backyard.  The stove was at the end of the kitchen next to a closet where the heater was.  A clock radio used to be mounted on the underside of the cabinets near the sink and anytime there was a thunderstorm the radio crackled in time with the lightning.  There was a phone on the wall above the far end of the table; my Memom used it every evening for at least half an hour at around the same time–7pm-ish–to talk to her sister.

Past the table and to the left was the “pool room” where we kept a pool table and pretty much nothing else.  The pool table was around before me, so I’m not entirely sure if the room was ever used for anything else.  The front door was in here along with four floor to ceiling windows that were covered with a thin curtain.

Back out of the pool room and turn left, down the hallway with parquet floors.  To the right is the bathroom–pretty standard:  toilet, sink, bath/shower.  There’s also a window in here, a creepy window that opened up to darkness.  Originally the house had been much smaller and my grandparents had an addition put on but they had to sacrifice the bathroom window.  It was just left as is.

Again, into the hallway and turn left–this was the bedroom that was once my mother’s and then mine and my sister L’s.  We had a closet full of toys and books and things; we were lucky!  I remember the wallpaper in this room very vividly… blue with little tiny white flowers in vertical lines… I only remember this because every time I hear that song “Flowers on the Wall” by The Statler Brothers (“countin’ flowers on the wall, that don’t bother me at all.  Playin’ solitaire til dawn with a deck of 51”) I think of that room.

Out in the hallway and make another left–my grandparents’ room.  Granddad worked nights so he was in here during the day and Memom slept in there at night.  I remember little bits about this room like the old 60’s type phone in there that I used to call all of my friends when Mom told us she was going to have another baby.  I remember a note that had been put on the side of the dresser in the room reminding my Granddad to put on his belt and check his zipper.  Clearly the dysfunctionalness in my family started ages ago!

At the end of the hall was a closet where the vacuum was kept as well as other stuff I wasn’t allowed to touch.  We also kept our winter coats in there.  Near the closet was a little clock that tick-tocked with each swing of the tiny little pendulum.  I spent many nights listening to those tick-tocks, imagining someone pacing up and down the hall on the parquet floors and scaring myself silly.

To the right was the “sewing room” where Memom kept her sewing machine and craft stuff and, later, where the computer was set up.  On the back of the door to the room was a picture I drew that I’m still desperately to this day trying to find–it was of a few people playing volleyball near a lake and there’s this MASSIVE yellow duck right in the middle of the picture, dwarfing everything.  I want it framed, if I can ever find it.  My Memom kept everything we girls ever did, even down to the pencil scribbles, so I know that’s there somewhere.

Through the sewing room was the living room, my favorite part of the house.  There was nothing overly special about it though there was a fireplace and I do remember the really cool OLD tv they had before the flood of 1997.  We always had Christmas back here as well… it was just a warm and friendly and comfortable room.  L and I always ate dinner back here on a little board in front of the tv.  I remember snuggling up on the couch with Granddad in the summer to watch Stick Stigley on Nickelodeon and fighting with L about whether we were going to watch Rugrats or not.

Out the back door was the back patio area, part concrete and part deck.  We used to have ants by the back door until we got the resident anteater (me) out on them and a whole population of little insects was wiped out.  We had a pool in the backyard… above ground and pretty big.  I lived in there during the summer and always had a faaaabulous tan.  Oh if only I could get that back!  There were many a fun time in that pool, listening to the radio while Granddad or Memom sat up on the deck watching us.

There was a huge tree that sheltered the old red deck and part of the pool.  I used to climb it all the time, originally to tease L and later with a book for some peace and quiet.  There was another tree in the backyard–a sapling that was planted when I was born.  That was my tree.  A small metal shed held all sorts of treasures (or junk, as Memom put it) that I wasn’t allowed to touch–old vintage toys that Mom had played with and goodness knows what else.  That was all lost in the flood and the shed was rebuilt as a nice, big wooden one.

On the right side of the yard towards the back there used to be some small grapevines that our neighbors used to grow, but I don’t remember ever eating any of them, though I loved how the vines would curlicue through the wire of the fence.

Back up towards the house was a metal, blue swing set that used to tip back and forth every time you swung too high–they later dug holes for they legs and cemented them in.

At the very front of the yard was the gate and a small concrete patio area which was later covered by a carport.  During the spring and summer, L and I used to “paint the house” using cups of water and little paintbrushes–we would paint the bricks on the house with the water in shapes and scribbles and such.  I used to love doing that.

Through the gate, there’s the front yard.  It’s your typical front yard–shrubs and flowers and the like.  At one point, we had a slug problem and then Memom used to put out little capfuls of beer to kill them.  For whatever reason I thought that killing something with beer was hilarious.  Little did my liver know…

At the very front of the yard, near the street, was a small ditch.  We used to get “crawdad holes” in the ditch and, though I never saw a crawdad, I was dead set on catching one.  I used to poke string into the holes a la a fishing ling and hope for the best!  Yes, I do still have all of my fingers!

So that’s the house!  I have so many more memories, both big and small, important and insignificant, vivid and fuzzy; I could go on for days.  I suppose everyone has a place like that–a place where they felt secure and where they made a lifetime of memories.  I hope that one day I can do the same for my kids and grandkids–give them a place to grow and thrive and live and love.




7 thoughts on “The Prodigal Child

  1. And here sits “the girl who remembers being born”, and she doesn’t remember this sanctuary. At all. That’s probably the hardest part of being the youngest. All of these things that you all treasure…I can’t even wrap my head around any of it.

  2. My favorite memories are of Christmas time when I was little, the Christmas tree and the Christmas village with the train. I remember before the family room was added on the front room was the living room. I remember my birthday parties with the family outside grilling out and shooting off fireworks. I remember walking around the block with dad, I helped clean out the fireplace. I can still remember my monkey bar set I got for my 10th birthday. Kneeling down on a sewing needle, breaking my arm at the babysitter’s. Bringing you home, food poisoning about a week later. You and L dancing in the family room to Ike and Tina Turner’s Proud Mary. I remember the flood and the look on mom and dad’s faces. I remember the smell and the mess. I remember when they finished repairing their house then dad having his stroke. I remember that you and your sister wrote in chalk on the driveway welcome home grandad. I remember L and N in the pool when I was pregnant asking if I was having a pain and L asking if there was pressure with it. I remember when they sold the house. The house is no longer ours but we will always have the precious memories, good and bad.

  3. I remember pretending to have the hiccups so memom would give us a teaspoon of sugar. And pretending that we had a cough so we could drink cough syrup 🙂 I remember how we use to run & slide on memom’s little sewing board thing, until I hurt my foot doing it. How we use to run around the living room like crazy animals listening to andrew lloyd webber. How we were in the pool and the next door neighbor’s were having someone cut their tree down or something like that, and we kept yelling at them that we were siamese twins. Good thing they didn’t fall out of the tree, that would not have been so funny lol. good memories 🙂

    1. You seriously just made me laugh so hard that I almost peed myself!

      Do you remember playing mass? You always wanted to be the priest… you would get a cup of juice and a bit of bread and would stand on the fireplace. Soooo holy… look at ‘cha now! 🙂

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