Friday, January 23, 2009

Memories of a Tough Old Bird

One of the joys of going to visit my cousin in San Francisco is that she and her husband are living in the same house that our grandparents and parents grew up in (her mother and my father are siblings). Now my cousin's kids are the fourth generation to by growing up in the house, and it is fun to peek in their room, as it was the very room that my father grew up in, and it is the one room in the house that they haven't remodeled, so it has an old-school feel to it!

They have done a beautiful job of remodeling the home, while still preserving the integrity of its original style in a lot of ways.  One of my favorite things about the living room is that the same piano is there that has been there since my grandparents lived in the house.  Isn't it beautiful?  

I have no idea how old it is, but look how the pedals have been worn down over years of playing:

My paternal grandmother wasn't exactly a woman who gave you the warm fuzzies. For example, she preferred that her grandchildren called her by her first name. None of this "grandma" business for her! Lest you think I'm being a little harsh in my recollection of her, know that she even referred to herself as "a tough old bird". 

And a tough old bird she was!  She lived to be 95 years old, and proudly proclaimed to the end, that she never colored her hair with a bottle...that dark brown hair was natural, by golly!

I have two favorite memories of her from my childhood. One was that she would have my sister and I belly up to the bar on two barstools she had that looked through a portal into the kitchen, and she would serve us root beer floats. To this day, I love the taste of root beer floats!

The other favorite memory I have of her is sitting next to her on that piano bench, as she would play me "Engineer's Child" (though I think her version had a slightly different tune than the original). She even taught me how to play it, and when I was there visiting this past weekend, I waited for a moment when I was alone in the house, and I sat down on the bench and played that crazy song, singing along as I played, and I cried.

Generations come and generations go, but certain legacies live on. And as I played and sang that day, perhaps the walls in that house or even the piano itself remembered those very same notes played decades ago by a tough old bird to her impressionable young granddaughter who remembers.


J at said...

What a lovely post, and how lovely to have the house in your family for so many generations. That is indeed rare, and more so living in California!

Your family has done a beautiful job with the house. :) And your grandma sounds like a wonderful, caring woman, even if she was a 'tough old bird'. :)

Cherry said...

Really Starshine, that is a really lovely post.

I love the memories you shared and the song, and the fact that you took the moment to play it. That is very sweet.

And that house. You can really feel love and family in that house.

Sharon said...

I meant my ancestors. I will call into the past, far into the beginning of time, and beg them to help me at the judgment. I will reach back and draw them into me. And they must come…for at this moment I am the whole reason they have existed at all.
~ From the movie "Amistad"

Autumn's Mom said...

It's wonderful to still have that beautiful house in your family. It's so touching you got to have a little moment reliving old memories. I miss the place my grandparents lived when I was younger. When I dream of them, I always dream of them in that house. I can still remember the sound it made when doors closed, the doorbell, the garage door opening when my Grandfather came home from work. I do still have the table they ate at. It's very special to me, I like sitting in the seats they once occupied.


Mrs. G. said...

One of my favorite posts ever.

Those kitchen portals were the coolest.

Dana Cheryl said...

What a beautiful recollection! Thank you for sharing it. I even got a little teary-eyed.