Spring is the time of year I remember my grandparents the most. Mostly my Grandma Meidinger, she was the first to leave us. Somehow, when I was younger, I thought I would always have grandparents. Now, I am one.
The huge house on the farm (12 children) holds only vague memories for me. Most of the visits to grandparents were in town, after they turned their farms over to the next generation.
As a very young girl, I remember the Meidinger farmhouse had lots of character and sunshine. Two things stick out in my mind the most – a grinding wheel my grandfather used to sharpen his knives and the pigpen. The heavy wheel was always in its place near the shelterbelt. It treadled like an old sewing machine, and we played with it. The family gathered under those trees for yearly picnics, but moved to the park in the city along with my grandparents.
The barn was across a gravel road, next to a corral for the pigs. My mother always told us to stay away from those pigs because they would eat us if we fell into the pigpen.
Like that wasn’t enough, my dad’s uncle was missing an ear. We were told a pig ate it off when he was young. That uncle was living proof to keep us away from the pigs.
My grandparent’s house in town was small by comparison, but had an open staircase with a wooden banister. Upstairs held a great deal of mystery to us, we weren’t really allowed up to go there except to use the bathroom. It was cooler than the rest of the house and a table in one of the bedrooms held grade school photos of all the grandchildren. There were 56 plus great-grandchildren when she died.
We always entered the house through the kitchen door and the first thing you smelled was Dove soap.
What was neat was some of the crazy things my grandmother did. LIke one year she had carrots hanging in the window when we came for Easter. It was the coolest thing I had ever seen.
Why she would do this I don’t know, except maybe she was thinking about her garden.
Rather than throw the old carrots out, someone had cut off the fat ends, about 3 inches. Toothpicks were buried into the thickest part forming a cross. The toothpicks and some string were used liked a macrame plant hanger to hang the carrots in the kitchen window.
The inside core of the carrot had been bored out and filled with water. The green top of the carrot grew out from the bottom of the carrot and then curved upwards towards the light.
It was fascinating.
Grandma always invited us to stay for supper. When we did, we had the same meal – sausage, Jell-o, olives, bread, butter and homemade pickles. At Christmas there were nuts, fruits, popcorn balls and honey cookies – at Easter there were colored eggs and candy.
Staying for supper required furniture to be rearranged because the kitchen wasn’t large enough for all of us. It didn’t seem like a lot of trouble, but my mom always “hated to see her go through all that work.”
Removing the photos from the table in the living room, adding some chairs and lay out the simple supper didn’t seem like too much to do. And, since Germans judge people by the heartiness of their appetites, and it could be construed as an insult not to accept an invitation to eat.
Later, when my grandmother died, followed by her husband and then my dad’s parents, my mom told me if she had it to do all over again she would have accepted the invitation to eat with her parents more often.
In the past five or so years, I have tried to slow down a bit and stop to see my friends and relatives when I’m in the neighborhood.
Because when you get older, I think, the time you spend visiting with your family by far outweighs the inconvenience you think you’re causing other people.