The previous blog about our entire renovation adventure acted as the very best tribute that I could give to my incredible grand parents (which is why I’ll always keep it) however, I still wanted to mention them here, one more time, for those of you who just joined us and wonder who the heck I’m talking about when I say “my grandma” because I really think you ought to know a little bit about her as well as my grandpa and their story. This blog (and the previous one about the renovation) is based on my “Grandma’s House” that is: my mom’s mom: Charlotte. Charlotte and Arvid lived for over fifty years in the farm house you’ve been hearing so much about which they purchased in the fall of 1950. The house was built in 1915 and saw the wrap around porch added in 1925 before my grandparents’ purchased it. When they moved in it wasn’t long before they made some improvements such as the awesomeness of, you guessed it, indoor plumbing! And a new kitchen and flooring and the like, not to mention closing in half of the screened in porch to create an entry, a bedroom, and an enclosed staircase down to the basement. The 1960s was the last time the house saw most of its improvements until my husband and I tackled it in April 2014.
Charlotte lost her mom when she was only five years old and was on her folks’ farm, taking care of her dad, when she met my grandpa Arvid. He was fresh back from world war II when they fell in love and got married and moved into the farm house that Joe and I call home today. They had an enormous garden, did a bit of farming and they milked a herd of Jersey cows for many years. When they retired they converted the barn into a wood working shop where they built all sorts of awesome stuff (dressers, beds, end tables, you name it!) and this is how I remember my grand parents: out in the barn building things. The animals were long gone before I came around but I got to be a part of the wood working for a little while before my grandpa had a stroke when I was fifteen. My grandma had long since been diagnosed with macular degeneration and was losing her sight. That was the end of their wood working days and everything on their little farm that had still been going, just stopped.
It was very sad.
Years later, when Joe and I started on the renovation journey of the farm house, we ran into things over and over again that felt like grandpa or grandma had only, just a minute ago, put it down with every expectation of picking it up and using it again. We lost grandma over ten years after we lost grandpa, I have no doubt that they were more then ready to be together again. They were both well into their 90s and their longevity and their relatively good health into their later years I believe is a testament to how they lived: Simply, on a farm, growing so much of what they ate for years, chopping wood and living close to the earth that sustained them. It is the way Joe and I plan to live out the rest of our own story.
Grandma was an intelligent woman, she was unbeatable at scrabble and also spectacular at Jeopardy. She was also crotchety, stubborn and a hater of change so totally that it was almost, sometimes, hard to believe. She took good care of grandpa and, never once, did much for herself. Frivolous things made absolutely no sense to her and “new” things were almost offensive when her old things were still working just fine. On the other hand my grandpa was an enthusiastic man that liked to dance and drink and, even in his worst moments, he found goodness in life and always had something to smile about. They complimented each other perfectly. Where grandpa was easy going, grandma was serious and their life reflected that truth. They did well for themselves, were organized and raised two beautiful girls and were able to retire and enjoy many years just doing what they wanted to do. Which was: Wood working, gardening, bringing in wood for the winter and taking care of one gorgeous yard.
Grandma had flower beds that were worth envying, she was hard core about her yard and, right up until she couldn’t any more, she was out there picking up sticks and cleaning up. I really look forward to bringing her yard back to its glory days, if not for us, but for grandma because I know the yard not being taken care of is driving her nuts.
Joe has picked up my grandpa’s insatiable need to be out in the woods with his chainsaw and, every day, I see more of grandpa in Joe. We will never lack for fire wood and that is an incredibly comforting thing. Joe is the type to always have a smile on his face, like grandpa was, and nothing ever seems to bother him, its a wonderfully happy presence to be around and something we all missed when grandpa passed away. Having found someone like Grandpa remains a shock to me because I didn’t think there were many like him still left in this world. People who know how to have fun, how to smile, how to enjoy an honest day’s labor and people who truly love to take care of their family, people who love to provide and to create. I am an incredibly lucky girl.