This is my grandma Autumn’s log home, near the camp which she and my grandpa Del founded in 1973. She left us to greet her Lord during a beautiful snowstorm this morning. If you knew Autumn, that means that you were offered a cup of tea in a real china teacup, a warm meal served on a 100-year-old oak table, and a hug whether you deserved it or not. She is surely riding through heaven on a fast horse, with Jesus at her side.
We didn’t have our own home from the time I was eight years old to when I turned eleven. We lived with Grandma and Grandpa in their beautiful log home in the forest. On winter nights, as my brother and I built snow forts in the yard or hiked in our snow boots across the dark meadow, this was the view that called me home. Buttery light slipping from the windows, hinting at the warmth within. Grandma, ringing the bell on her porch to let us know it was dinner time. The sudden rush of heat and the scent of roast, potatoes, and biscuits as we opened the door. If it wasn’t dinner time she would make us hot chocolate and cinnamon toast. Once, I asked my mother why other cocoa was never as good as Grandmas.
“She adds half-n-half.” Mom explained. Of course she did.
Even though our family of four was stuffed into a single bedroom, Grandma made us feel as though we had finally come home. She helped me bury dead birds and squirrels and put up little crosses so that their graves would not be forgotten. She was such a gracious and gifted hostess that I once based a fictional grandma on her and had a beta reader tell me that the character was too nice to be real. I had to explain that she was real.
Grandma extended her heart to my own sons as well. If they didn’t ask her for a piece of candy out of her special cut glass dish, she would make sure to offer them one, just in case they were wasting away. But who am I kidding, they almost always asked, sometimes several times. They washed dishes in her sink and skinned fish in her kitchen. They caught bugs in her lawn, drove trucks in the sandbox, and threw pine cones down on anyone walking under the tree house at the edge of their yard.
Even when she was bedridden and sleeping all day, I would go in and kiss her cheek and say I love you, and she would wake up just enough to say “I love you too, Honey Girl” before drifting off.
When I think of childhood, of safety, warmth, belonging, and delicious food, I can’t help but think of my grandmother with a china teacup in one hand as she pointed to the cookie tin with the other.