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Grandma Rose's Kitchen

I want my kitchen to be like Grandma’s: warm, inviting and full of people, love, toys, good food, noise, fun and messes.

My brothers and I sit on the floor of our Great-Grandma Rose’s kitchen. It’s 1991 and I am 10 years old. We are building with the blocks that live in a box conveniently located in Grandma’s kitchen, next to her treadle sewing machine and hand-crank washing machine. Grandma likes to do things the old-fashioned way.

Everyone is welcome in Grandma’s kitchen. Everyone. Our dad, mom, grandparents, aunts and uncles, even though they may have muddy boots, are all gathered around for a coffee break. The dogs are here, too: Rusty the Golden Retriever and Bear the Newfie. Big, messy farm dogs, but Grandma welcomes them into her kitchen.

And of course, we’re here. My brothers, cousins and I. Her great-grandchildren. We know exactly where Grandma keeps her seemingly endless supply of homemade Tollhouse cookies (in the fridge in summer, or in the drawer under the oven in winter). We know where she keeps the special glasses we can use for milk to go with our cookies.

We like to play in her living room with the old camera or doll carriage, read her hand-stiched homemade books, pick out a new dress from the box under Grandma’s bed and change the old dolls, or look carefully at her collection of tiny figurines and snow globes. But when everyone is visiting in the kitchen, that’s where we are.

We draw on Grandma’s chalkboard, play with the homemade panda and his little chair or the quilted dog. But we especially love the wooden blocks. They’re not colorful, but they’re large and smooth, and there are a lot of them. Today we build a tower: a big, tall tower, that repeatedly crashes to the floor after attempts to go even higher. The grown-ups are talking, but we don’t listen, we’re engrossed in our engineering.

Almost too soon, coffee break is over and it’s time to get back to work on the farm. Grandma tells us not to worry about the dishes or the blocks, and we head back out into the cold with full bellies and contented hearts. After we leave, Grandma will pick up the toys, do the dishes and scrub muddy footprints and pawprints off the floor on her hands and knees. She’s 94 years old, but she never complains about the mess we make. As the matriarch of our family, she knows what’s really important in life. She heads out for her daily brisk walk around the farm, checks on her garden, then returns home to bake more cookies and get ready for our visit tomorrow.

My Great-Grandmother Rose died at the age of 99 and a half, when I was in high school. I feel so fortunate to have known her for as long as I did and to have spent so much time in her kitchen. I miss her, but I will always have those memories. I want my kitchen to be like Grandma’s: warm, inviting and full of people, love, toys, good food, noise, fun and messes. I want to give these memories to my children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

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Roberta Schwartz May 28, 2012 at 01:49 AM
Abbie you are so fortunate to have those memories and there is no doubt you will recreate the warmth and wonderfulness of your Grandma Rose's kitchen in your own kitchen. My Mother's kitchen held the same magic for me and was a gathering place for my girlfriends and me as we would many a night sit at the kitchen table drinking tea from one of the delicate antique teacups from my Mother's vast collection sharing our teenage hopes and dreams and laughing at just about anything all under the watchful and wise eye of my mother. I tried to create that same warm and wonderful atmosphere in my own kitchen (my boys and their friends didn't drink tea but they sure ate a lot!) and now that I am about to become a grandmother myself, I hope the kitchen magic will live on!
Ruth Rose May 28, 2012 at 07:09 PM
Oh, Abbie, you have perfectly captured the essence of Grandma Rose's kitchen! That is exactly how I remember it, too! Family was everything to her, as it should be. We can only aspire to be like her in this crazy world of today!!! Thank you for reminding us!
Rose M. Albin June 29, 2012 at 12:55 AM
Dear Abbie, What a great memory of your Great-Grandma. It was a very touching story and I'm sure you will live up to her way of enjoying family gatherings. Whether they are on holidays or just everyday visits. What a great picture of Joshua, I hope he's enjoying being home with you. Have a great summer vacation. Sincerely, Rose Albin (Wee Care)

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