I would like to begin this blog as a little girl, anxiously riding in the backseat of my parent’s mini van, awaiting the arrival to my great grandparent’s house. My Great Grandparents, Bessie and Eugene, lived in a small town in Cornell, Wisconsin where my family and I would travel at least every year for Christmas. Other trips would also be made for family reunions and summer get togethers.
My great grandparent’s house is over 100 years old and very little has changed since then except of course for a few technological advances like running water and electricity. But, that was what I loved most about going up north; nothing ever changed. There was so much history there. The fact that my mom played in the same toy room adorned with the same wallpaper and pictures hanging as we did, is something that I now can truly appreciate.
Unfortunately, our trip to Cornell this weekend was for my great grandma’s funeral. The last time we had been up north was for my great grandpa’s funeral almost six years ago. About two weeks after my great grandpa died, my grandma moved out of the old farmhouse into assisted living. The house was too much for her to handle and she no longer wanted to be there now that my grandpa was gone.
After that happened, we no longer made trips up north. There were no more family reunions or get togethers. It was as if life’s crazy schedule got the best of us, and everyone was so busy with their own families and obligations that the years just kept passing by. Before we knew it, six years had passed. Our great grandparents house was our meeting ground, it was all we ever knew and it was as if no one knew how to start all over again.
When we pulled into the driveway of the old farmhouse this time, all of my childhood memories came rushing back. No one had lived in the house for over six years and the inside definitely proved that. The wallpaper was peeling off, the doors were starting to mold due to the lack of air, the cracks in the ceilings seemed to be bigger, and almost everything in the house was gone. It was one of the hardest things to do; walking through a house that used to be full of so much family, laughing, playing cards, eating great food, while the kids were upstairs playing in the toy room and bowling down the hallway.
Now, all that was left were the remains. The remains of a house that used to be filled with so much love. The wallpaper seemed to be protruding with hundreds of memories piled up over the years. It was hard not to walk through a room and not remember something that happened there. It was hard not to walk through and not hope that my great grandma would come around the corner with a fresh Rollick. Rollicks are a Bohemian tradition that look like crescent rolls with poppy seeds sprinkled on the top. They were served warm with butter on the bottom and was something that I looked forward to every time we came up. Everyone did. As my great grandma got older, they were too much work to make. Unfortunately, none of my family members now know how to make them. Sure we have the recipe, but we don’t have the tricks of the trade that my great grandma used to make them just right.
Before we left, I really wanted something to remind me of the days at my great grandma and grandpa’s house. Just in case I would never see it again, just in case they decided it was too dangerous to leave standing; just in case. One of the items that was still left in the house was this beautiful gold and silver mirror that always hung in the entry way by the front door. My great grandma use to slip our school pictures into the sides, and it still hung there as though it was patiently awaiting the next school year. I can’t wait to be able to hang it up in my own house one day. Hopefully by the entry way, just like my Great Grandma Bessie had it. And when others walk past it and ask about it, I’ll have one heck of a story to share.
If there was a life lesson I’ve learned this past weekend, it’s to not let the rigorous and demanding schedule of life to get in the way of what is truly important. To me, what is truly important are my family and friends. Before you know it, those family and friends you care about so deeply may no longer be there to continue the great memories with. It breaks my heart that there will never be another family christmas inside that old farmhouse, but now I can only be thankful for the time we did get to spend there.
From now on, I will make it one of my greatest goals to make time for those that are most important, no matter how overwhelming the routine of life becomes. Making time to drive a few minutes out of my way to stop at my grandma and grandpa’s house, just pick up the phone to see how they’re doing, or offer to pick up lunch to just remind them how much I love them. It will mean more to them then I could probably ever grasp. Time spent with family and friends making memories is something that will provide me with more satisfaction than money or success ever could. I’m truly thankful that I’ve come across this life lesson now instead of when it really is too late. Life, as we know it, wouldn’t be worth living without the people that are in it.
THE GIRL IN THE YELLOW CAB