As I mentioned in the post-Thanksgiving post, my heroic husband had a nasty fever for two days before Thanksgiving. Mimi had had it before him and recovered after the second day, so on Thursday morning when he thought he was fine he heroically packed us up and drove the three hours to his mother’s house, by which time he was feeling bad again. After taking it easy for the rest of the day, he woke up feeling all right again and took Mimi to his grandmother’s house for the morning, along with almost everyone else except me. And so I found myself alone in Mimi’s grandmother’s kitchen.
Sparks’ parents upped stakes and moved to Saint Thomas in the early 2000s, where they enjoyed the weather and “island time” for five years, living in a big yellow house that sprouts horizontally from the side of a mountain (or that’s how it seemed to me when Sparks and I drove by it in 2010). After five years, though, two grandchildren had arrived and their parents were getting old(er) and who knows what all… they sold the big yellow house and moved back to the tiny town where Jane grew up, to her parents’ house, now without her parents in it.
The house, I understand, was originally just the front room/kitchen/bedroom/back hall on the ground floor, and two bedrooms and a sitting room on the second floor (and yes, an outhouse out back). Sometime in the sixties an addition was built that doubled the size of the house, adding a bathroom and study on the ground floor and a bathroom and bedroom on the second. As a result, the house can in theory have six double beds in it: bedroom and study on ground floor, three bedrooms and sitting room upstairs.
Not having met Sparks till after his parents moved back here, I don’t know what things are his mother’s and what things are his grandmother’s. Probably the old spice tins and cookbooks are Ede’s. Maybe the things in the china cupboard are Jane’s. Jane has said that after a lifetime of redecorating new houses, she’s tired of it and won’t spend a dime on this one. Things might as well stay in their places.
The house stands on some ground that, once upon a time, functioned as a small hog farm run by Jane’s father Pete. There is an old pump (now restored to working condition) and outbuildings full of old stuff, an abandoned barn and an abandoned wood shop and half-tame cats with their own special cat building. It’s so much like my grandparents’ old chicken farm that it takes my breath away. That farm was sold ten years ago (when my grandmother was merely ninety. She turned ninety-nine earlier this month) and is lost to us as a family now.
Sparks and I–two people with two grandmothers making pies in their farmhouse kitchens. Two grandfathers making a go at small-time farming among other things. Two people who have shyly admitted, at different times, that we remind each other in certain small ways of beloved and now-dead grandparents.
And our little girl, running a circuit around the house, playing with her cousins and grandparents and aunt and uncle, sleeping in her great-uncle’s old room, running between the buildings on her little-girl legs.
I hope she remembers.