Thursday, November 13, 2008

The House With the Shiny Sink

I was six months old when it was purchased. Mom says we went to Sears and Roebuck the day of the big move and a Winnie the Pooh stuffed animal was purchased for me. I, apparently, chewed the nose off on the way home from the store.

Our family moved alot through my younger years. I lived in several different houses. But Mam-ma's and Granddaddy's house was always the same.

It was home. For all of us.

I don't know if you've ever had a place of unconditional acceptance and favor. For me, it was 3005 Byron. The door was always open, or I could use the secret key. My favorite ice cream was waiting in the fridge and the remote control was available to command!

Mam-ma and Granddaddy always had time. Time to visit. Time to laugh. Time to re-tell our stories and listen to our tales.

To capture my experiences in their home would take a lifetime of words.

Heritage, I guess. My faith, my confidence, my understanding of family and forgiveness and God...much of it was nurtured and shaped in those walls.

Also, my love of a clean kitchen.

Precious Mam-ma. She LOVED clean. When I was in elementary school, they built on to the house. I remember well all the many discussions of dimensions, and rocks for the fireplace and kitchen cabinet colors (orangey-red!). Mam-ma was thrilled with the outcome and bragged on Granddaddy's generosity.

She was also very happy about the stainless steel sink. I remember her choosing it. It was much better than the off-white enamel of the original kitchen, she said. She oohed and ahhed over the stainless steel and how shiny it was. So CLEAN!

I stood over that sink many, many times. Washing dishes, rinsing dishes, "helping" Mam-ma cook. I loved it when the dishes were done and she would wipe the sink down with the towel. It seems, the stainless steel sink salesman had mentioned that drying the sink would make it last longer. So Mam-ma faithfully dried, daily.

After it shone, she would sigh and say how happy a clean kitchen made her feel. I equated, in my young mind, a shiny sink with happiness and contentment.

She would then, pick up her glass of iced tea, wrap a napkin around the bottom of it and play cards with me at the bar. (NOT a drinking bar, mind you, a BREAKFAST bar!)

Mam-ma would comment on everything. She was funny. Hilarious really. And she was thrilled when we, the grandkids, were around. I felt like that house was for us, somehow. That's how she and Granddaddy made everything feel.

On our furlough, I stayed at Mam-ma and Granddaddy's house for the last time. My family and I slept there. My kids ate at the bar, lounged in the den and looked at all the old pictures with me.

As I loaded up card tables with sale items and tearfully removed photos from the walls, my mind was awash with every comment Mam-ma made about the things around me.

"Come in this house!"
"Come look at these new curtains, Cheryl!"
"Your Granddaddy loves to buy things for me! Isn't that grand?!?"
"I baked a good 'ole cake today! Have a piece!"
"Your ice cream is in the fridge."
"Wash your hands before you cook in my kitchen. My friend wipes her nose with her hands while she cooks. Isn't that awful?!?!"
"Want to play cards?"
"Let me tell Granddaddy you're here. It's hot outside and he needs a break!"
"Will you get that phone for me?"
"Dry the sink up. I want that stainless steel to last!"
"Don't rush off!"

Words that became like breath to me. So secure. So safe.

Mam-ma went Home some years back. Granddaddy struggles through pneumonia as I type. That house, those words...the life of that place will never be the same.

And neither will I.

I don't know if they could ever understand how important they are to me. What a treasure their life and story is to mine. How very effected I am today by these memories.

How very much I want to be holding Granddaddy's hand.

Leaving the house was painful for me, last August. Just like the day we lost Mam-ma, it was the kitchen that drew me in.

I cleaned as Jeff loaded the car. The kids had already left with Nana and Papa and I was thankful for the moment alone. Jeff finished his tasks and seemed a little confused at my time and attention to every detail of a kitchen soon to be renovated or sold.

It felt methodical to me. The washing of the cabinet. It was not my hands I saw. But hers. Granddaddy's generosity. Mam-ma's cooking. The warmth of a home I'll never forget. The place on the cabinet where the cake always sat. The shadowed imprints where the plaques hung abover the sink. The smell of the towel drawer.

The sink.

It was the last thing I had to do. But my tears were pouring on it.

Jeff gently suggested we get on the road. And with grieving determination I breathed in each scent of that precious place. Each sight and memory and word...

I tucked them away.

Dried the sink.

And quietly said goodbye.

The ice cream bowls are in my cabinet now. The ice cream scoop, I now see everyday. The kitchen plaques hang in East Africa on my rented walls.

Just things.

Reminding me, that some of the greatest gifts I've received in this life are not things at all.

Unconditional favor, acceptance, adoration and love...from Mam-ma and Granddaddy. As Grace from God.

And, just as they would expect and be proud of...that is what I have to pour out too.

An open door. Joy. Laughter. Welcome. Funny comments. Great food.

And always, always...

A shiny sink.


Sherilyn said...

Wow! What impeccable timing you have! We met the realtor at the house yesterday and will put it on the market in a couple of weeks. This has been a really difficult process for me as well. When the realtor left and we had finished securing everything before we headed home, I had to go back in and do one more thing.......shine the sink. And shine, it did!!!

laura said...

You have a beautiful heritage and I love hearing stories of the upbringing that God blessed you with! Praise Him for all the love and grace that surrounded and continues to surround you. Enjoy your reminders that are now with you in Africa... they may just be things, but they symbolize something much grander.

Larenenbilly said...

You have a gift for writing that draws one into your story & allows us to be a part of your experience. I, too, am a "nana" & treasure my time with my grandkids (2 of which are cousins to Anaiah!). Your excellent
story reminded me again just how precious is our memory-making time.
(Please consider sending this story to This is a site for writers to submit their stories
for others to review...and there are cash prizes as well. I know others would be blessed by your story.)
Blessings to you & the Martins.
Larene & Bill Zoerner

Kelly Vaughn said...

This is is so good to hear words from your heart. I still can't believe that you were here and we did not get to see each other. I sure thought we would but I know how limited the time is and full it becomes..I understand. Know you are close to my heart and so often in my prayers.
Blessings Friend,

Trisha said...

I love the way you keep record of your sweet memories. I've only been in that house a few times--the first one the day of your Mam-ma's funeral, but each time I could certainly feel the warmth and love it held. She must have passed that gracious hospitality on to her daughter and granddaughters. What a beautiful heritage.

Praying for your family--these kinds of transitions are hard.

Diane said...

Thanks for sharing your precious memories of your grandparents. What kind of memories am I building for my grandchildren? That's good food for thought.
Grace and peace, Diane

Anonymous said...

My grandparents home was the same place for me....acceptance, unconditional love and lots and lots of fun. When my granny died this summer it was so difficult (and continues to be so.) And yet, I am so thankful for all the good memories. I pray that you are doing well.


Anonymous said...

YOu really should submit your writing somewhere. You have a gift with words!

Emily said...

Just found your blog through Ann. What a wonderful testimony to the grace of God through the hands of his saints. May the Lord comfort you in your sadness.

Mitch Moldenhauer said...

Hi, this is Mitch, the one that helped donated and dismantled the hanger.

I was seaching on Skype for some other missionary friends that live in the Philippines. My mother-in-law died today and I was looking for someone to help my wife with the funeral service.

In the process, I was checking to see if you had Skype as well and then came across your blog. I really appreciate your gentle reminder that it isn't the things that we will miss, but the person. I believe that reading your post will help my wife grieve in a healthy way. Thanks for writing.

I'm looking forward to hearing when the container ships.
To God be all the glory.

Sarah said...

I love you Cheryl: thank you for sharing your heart with the world so I (and many others) could find your words, and be encouraged as we miss the loved ones who showed us Christ by their lives. Your post could describe my grandparent's home, with all its love and acceptance to me. Thank you. I kept narrowly from crying ~ I didn't want my dear husband to worry about me crying over the computer! (again :-) May the God of all comfort fill you with His presence during your walk through this valley. His wings are shadowing you.

Jason said...

I ran across this article today and thought of you guys.

It is an article by an atheist discussing how he sees Christian Missions to be what helps Africa.

Hope you enjoy.


Heather said...

Thank you for your sharing your beautiful memories. Thank you for your words. May God give you peace and comfort.