Saturday, March 29, 2008

On the Road Again

This is a dispatch from the the Panopticon Mobile Unit, reporting from base camp at Grandma's kitchen table. I'm in Pennsylvania for a brief spell, gathering bits of this and that to be fashioned into an article for Piecework.

Of all the houses I knew as a child, this is the only one with doors still open to me. The others are long demolished or sold out of the family. Grandma, bless her heart, won't budge and I don't blame her.

It's a sweet little place, barely larger (excluding the cellar) than my apartment in Chicago. The single floor has a kitchen, living room, bathroom, main bedroom and second bedroom so compactly organized that there's no hall; the rooms just open into one another. I know folks who have media rooms larger than this. But my grandmother raised three children here, by herself, on her income from sewing and cleaning houses.

Behind me, on the door from the kitchen to the porch, there's a Colorform in the shape of Charlie Brown. I stuck it there  in the early 1970s when I was three or four years old, to remind Grandma of me and show her I'd come back again. She's never taken it down, and I do keep coming back. These days, it's being away that's hard.

40 comments:

Ann said...

Aw, Franklin, what a lovely senntiment! "It's being away that's hard."

Leslie said...

You are so lucky having your grandmother and both your parents around to lavish with love. It *is* awfully hard being away from someone who loves us unconditionally, isn't it?

JohnK said...

That is one of the sweetest (in a good way) posts ever.

MadCityMike said...

It is sad that many of us are no longer able to experience what you are now doing. With the loss of parents/grandparents to passing years/Alzheimer's, it is very heartening to hear of someone still experiencing what some of us "used to have". ENJOY!

knitnzu said...

What a great grandma! And to think, PA. :::shudder::: I lived in Harrisburg area for a couple years. Freaked me right out. So friggin' conservative, so white (which is not at all true, but the conservative/bigotry made it feel that way), the dirt was just the wrong color, the glacier never made it there, too many ticks, two hours from THE SOUTH (Mason-Dixon line), I could go on and on. But dh's family was nearby (there are a lot of them), and that was nice. And spring? So beautiful, dogwood and redbud scattered across the hills. Family and spring, about the only good things I can say about PA. Glad you have a good and special connection there.

hillary said...

That is such a sweet post. It reminded me of my grandparents house which I felt the same way about. They finally sold it about 4 years ago and moved to assisted living but, until they moved, there was a mirror in a closet with red crayon that I put on it when I was 3 or 4. My artistic scratchings were all over the mirror but my grandfather wouldn't let anyone clean them off because I put them there and that made them special to him. I miss that house but I'm happy that I can still visit my G&G.

Mary Ann said...

What a lovely tribute to your grandma. I love that she still has your Charlie Brown Colorform up, that is so sweet. I hope that my grandkids will always feel just as welcome in my house.

Anonymous said...

How wonderful to be able to travel back in time to your Grandmother. I still remember Grandma's kitchen in an apt. in the Bronx as a place of total, unadulterated love. Have a great time in PA and kiss Grandma for me!

Nancy said...

It's a frosty but sunny morning here in Southwestern PA with the "orange maples" pollenating and the native currant bushes leafing. So glad you are visiting with Grandma. The importance of visiting her now is immeasurable.

Karen said...

Grandma's are the best! My brother's and I are in the process of cleaning out our deceased grandparent's home. We've just about taken everything out except the great grandkid,s artwork that is covering one kitchen wall like wallpaper. Some of the artists are off to college soon. I think when that comes down, it will really be over.

no-blog-rachel said...

Aww...sounds like you have a pretty awesome grandma. And that you're a pretty awesome grandson.

shannon said...

oh make me cry into my coffee...

muchadored said...

What a touching post. Man, I miss my grandmom. So sweet.

Teresa said...

My grandmother is long gone...this sweet post makes me long for that connection.

I hope I'll be able to create that kind of space for my grandchildren.

KnelleyBelley said...

A Colorform in the shape of Charlie Brown as a reminder of her grandson. That's the sweetest thing I've read in a long, long time.

planetKnit said...

What a lovely post! My grandmother's been gone nearly 30 years (and I'm barely 40-something) but your words make it seem like just yesterday she was here. Thanks, Franklin!

elisa said...

Give your grandma a hug for me. I miss my grandparents so much.

CatBookMom said...

How wonderful that you still can visit her and share so many memories.

My grandparents' house (they've been gone for 35 years) was torn down a couple of years ago to build an offramp to a new bridge across the Mississippi. It was a huge shock. But I can at least wander through the rooms in my memories.

lizbon said...

I love that colorform. It's just heartbreaking.

rosesmama said...

Oh, that breaks my heart. Have a great time.

kaykatrn said...

You are a lucky fella to still have Grandma. Your description of her house had me picturing every little corner of my Grandma's house. It was built the same way, including a third bedroom that had a window through into the kitchen for air circulation. It was just big enough for a bunkbed. Making room for 9 kids was tough! Anyhow, I just had a lot of warm and wonderful memories flash through me. Thanks a bunch. Enjoy your visit.

Judi said...

I am so glad that you and your grandmother cherish each other. It is what makes life worth living.

Laiane said...

My grandmother inspired me to learn how to knit, but it was more than 12 years after she passed away before I picked up the needles and taught myself. She was a treasure, and I miss her.

Martha0051 said...

She raised three children and supported her family by sewing and cleaning houses. I bow down to a grand woman.

Shan said...

Aw shit, now you made me get all teared up. I hate that.

Kristen said...

Oh Colorforms! {sniff, sniff, dab eyes}

Anonymous said...

I'm in PA - where in PA are you? Love this post. Both you and your grandma are lucky.
Lin

DianeS said...

Grandmas just rock!

And just where are you in PA? Not far from Olean, NY, is a place called Sprague's...some of the best pancakes and maple syrup (real) that can be had. The place is not far from the PA line. I would sure be willing meet you and your Grandma there.

Bronchitkat said...

It's been so long since the Gran I knew died that I'm now cherishing my Mum & in-laws (not that I ever didn't).

Make the most of yr Gran while she lasts, Franklin. Great she's still there, & still there for you.

Robbyn said...

Colorforms! Oh gawd, I used to love those things...

dale-harriet said...

Franklin - this post says more about you than anything else; it goes far toward explaining the qualities that we all love in you. Please tell Grandma that she did something very RIGHT to raise the parent of such as you. Hope my grandlings feel the same toward me when they are your age. (You ARE such a dear; she might not say so, but I'm sure Dolores loves you a lot too.)

Michele Vogel said...

Grandmas are the best. God I miss mine. Hug yours once for me and touch her soft cheek.

Cindy said...

Send a photo of you with your Gaga pls. Enjoy every moment. Get firm with Delores too. She is taking advantage of you!

Sock Knitter said...

This message has me in tears.....I just lost my beloved Grandmother on Friday.

Cherish the moments, Franklin.

Miss T said...

Sounds like a lovely place to be.

Anonymous said...

Hey, Franklin. Thanks for this. For this post, for the blog in general. For the open-ness, the authentic humanity, for the cleverness. For the smirks, the snorts, the sighs. Your posts are tiny radioactive particles of happiness in my day. I'm thankful that you create them, and I hope it gives you some satisfaction to know that you bring bits of goodness into so many other people's lives with your creative work. Gratefully, Lynne

dragon knitter said...

you are so blessed to have your grandmother. i lost my maternal grandmother 7 years ago (goodness, it's amazing how hard that was to type), and i miss her every day. she's the one w ho taught me to knit.

and yes, she had similar things liek that in her home. i made a small thing that said "le throne room" that she kept on the back of her toilet til the day she died. i made it when i was 10.

katerina said...

that warms my heart Franklin :) Thanks for the smile.

Tracey In Michigan said...

Franklin. DO not make me cry again. I am a mother of 3 boys--- one readying to go off to college.... charlie brown colorforms are just to much for me at the moment!!!

And tell Dolores I'll pop over for a visit if she doesn't knock it off- I'm a Mom who doesn't put up with nonsense... and who's apparently having an identity crisis and empty nest syndrome right here in the comments... CRAP I could be dangerous.

Tell Grandma HI.

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