Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Treasured Memories

Jesus, sing along with me, "Precious Memories, how they linger . . ."

Jesus, do you remember where you slept when you were a boy and later as a man? Can you picture it in your mind, remember all the details of that place?  The sights, the sounds, the smells, the feel of your blankets and lumps where you lay?
I went to my grandmother's last night as I lay in my bed at home, nestled under a quilt grandma Maurine made for my high school graduation.
My inner eye and I roamed around in my grandmother's basement where we slept as kids during our summer break from school (we sometimes stayed a month during our three month break) and during our Christmas break (two weeks) and then upstairs in her second bedroom when I was sixteen. Do you remember that Jesus? I felt so grown up as I was allowed to visit my grandparents by myself and to travel to Dodge City, Kansas by train where they picked me up. Thank you for being with me, protecting me along the way. My mother never said anything, but I'm sure she was anxious until I made it there and they assured her I was okay when we called her from their house. I was excited and homesick all at the same time.
I miss grandma and Papa. Jesus, do you remember when I called him that? He was Papa until I think I was in high school and felt I was too old for such a childish name for him. I miss being able to visit them, but last night, I pushed past my emotions and looked around the rooms in my memory while I lay snugly under my quilt.
Will you come along with me as I remember grandma's basement? It was a wide open space, except for where the stairs came down into the third end of the room.  Grandma had grandpa build a little storage room under the stairs and shelves on the left side of the stair wall for her pretties. She would rotate them as she got tired of looking at them or when the seasons or holidays changed. On the right side of the stairs there were the white metal cupboards they removed from the kitchen in the old house before it was sold and moved into town.
Grandma told me they began housekeeping in a 2-room house, which was still standing the last time I was down at the farm, then they purchased a two story house in Elkhart, Kansas and moved it to their farm in the 1940s. On the plains of the Oklahoma panhandle and southwestern Kansas where wood for building was scarce, my mom said it was a common practice to remove whole buildings to a new site. After 20 years of living in that house, Grandpa decided to have a 2-bedroom ranch house built over a basement in 1962-63, thinking it would be easier for Grandma to keep house. 
Do you remember Jesus, that Grandma loved that old house as much I did? I don't know why she loved it, but I did because it was full of interesting nooks and crannies. It had a lot of character.
As I lay in bed, I swept my mind's eye around the room, feeling cozy and loved under my quilt. Beside me a few feet away, was Grandpa's office desk and chair. We kids loved that chair, do you remember why Jesus? We loved to sit in that wooden arts and crafts chair and spin each other just for the fun of it until mom would yell down the stairs and chase us out-of-doors to play. On the left side of Grandpa's desk was a bookcase where he kept his farm books mostly. After awhile, Grandpa brought home a huge metal safe to keep their photos and accounting books in. It was on the wall on the right side of the desk.
Remember the old living room furniture Grandma brought over from the old house – her scratchy old beige sofa, a braided area rug, an old blanket trunk, an old wooden kitchen chair with the black vinyl covered seat that wasn't fastened down and a end table arranged in a circle? In the corner, sat her old round oak dining room table. I loved that hefty pedestal table on huge claw feet and rollers as it could be pushed out from the wall a little if needed so all of us kids could crowd around (there was four of us and usually two or more cousins) to play games on it. Often times, when it was rainy or a blizzard blew in, we would play "house" down there. It was cool down there in the summer and warm in the winter.
Then there was the three double iron beds that we each slept in. One was mom's squeaky bed from when she was a girl. My sisters usually claimed that one, but my brother refused to sleep with me after he said I kicked him out of bed several times in a row in my sleep. Jesus, knowing my brother, he was probably being onery to me and I kicked him out in self-defense, but since I was asleep, I don't remember it. Jesus, did you have any pesky little brothers?
I remember the way the basement smelled, dusty. None of the basement walls or the floor were painted or sealed, so when we left, Grandma would cover the beds with plastic sheeting because that fine Oklahoma dirt would sift in through the basement windows, two on each wall whenever a storm would stir up.
Jesus, I felt so grown up as I lay in the upstairs bed in between the crisp white sheets where my parents usually slept when we came down during the Christmas holidays. Dad would take his two-week vacation time then and we would drive to our grandparents, usually during the night so that we kids slept on the way down in the back of the station wagon that mom and dad made up into a bed. Two at the top of the mattress and two at the bottom, with our legs and stocking feet meeting somewhere in the middle under the quilt. Sometimes I would just lay there, looking up at your beautiful night sky as the car rolled down the highway (eight hours one way). The sky didn't change much, but lower down, the telephone poles would flash by, one after the other. Thank you, Jesus, for that conjunction of Mars and Jupiter. There was much speculation that this was the star the wise men saw that year. Thank you for that precious memory.
Jesus, remember that new oak bedroom set that Grandma purchased in town when she moved into the new house for the second bedroom? The double bed was stationed under an aluminum drapery-framed window. Instead of opening from the bottom as our windows at home did, these slid open from the side. They were a wonder. My grandparents had air-conditioning, but sometimes they would shut it off during the night and open the windows to let in the fresh night-time breezes through the screen. Their air was dry, not humid like where we lived. The windows were shut before the heat of the day began.
The walls were painted white and the trim around the windows and doors were stained oak to match the bedroom furniture. Opposite the bed on the right side, was another window that looked toward the back of the house where the cement patio was. I always wanted a covered concrete patio like theirs. Their back door was constantly in use, unlike the formal front door.  Thank you, Jesus, for providing a home for my family with a small covered concrete porch.
Across the room, at the end of the bed, was the clothes closet and the exit door to the hallway. There was a beige carpet on the floor that led out to the hallway. And, facing me, as I curled up in the bed, was the oak bureau with mirror. As a good hostess, grandma kept two drawers empty so visitors would have some place to stash their stuff and a closet full of hangers. I can remember waking up at the crack of dawn and watching the sun come up, sometimes falling back to sleep until I heard my grandparents stirring in their bedroom. Once, grandpa, laughing, came to shake me awake. I guess I was talking in my sleep about horses! Jesus, the things I did in my sleep! I was rather embarrassed! LOL! Jesus, did you do anything funny in your sleep?
Jesus, I want to tell you  thank you for allowing me to have a relationship with my grandparents. Many of my friend's grandparents lived too far away or some had died before they were born, so they didn't know what they were missing. Grandma Maurine and I were close like this (holding two fingers up side by side); she was my best bud and a kindred spirit. All through my growing up years we corresponded by letter throughout the year.
Do you remember, Jesus, when my grandparents asked you to come into their hearts, to wash them whiter than snow? I bet your angels were rejoicing in heaven the day they did.
Grandma Maurine met Papa at a campmeeting in Topeka, KS. I don't recall how my paternal grandmother met my grandfather, but they were married in a pastor's home before Sunday School began. I expect that's why I'm a believer today, because they influenced my parents and thus me to follow Christ.
Remember Timothy, Jesus? He had a godly grandmother too. It says so in 2 Timothy 1:5 --

"I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also."

Paul told him to guard the good deposit, all the good reading from the scriptures he received from his grandmother and his mother, from infancy up, and Paul's discipleship in evangelism.
I thank you Jesus, for the treasured memories of my grandparents. See you in heaven, Grandma Maurine and Papa John. Until then. . .

More to Read:
Findagrave, # 15079870 and 15079845