Though my grandparents’ house is small, every one of its few rooms holds sweet memories. There are two bedrooms, and in one of those, I remember watching a few great movies. I’m not sure if the TV was always in that room, or whether it was wheeled in there so the grown-ups could have some adult time. But “Black Arrow” was one story that impressed me as a child.
I spent my first 14 years living within a couple hours of San Diego, so I had many chances to spend nights at Grandma and Grandpa’s house. One such night, I was sleeping in a sleeping bag, on an inflatable air mattress, and woke up in the middle of the night to the repeated sound of a bell ringing. In my groggy half-dream state, I assumed it was the grandfather clock striking midnight. The next morning, I found that I was completely on the floor, rather than on the air mattress, and heard the report that there had been an earthquake the previous night. My grandparents didn’t own a grandfather clock, so what I had heard was the doorbell dinging during the quake. And I’d slid right off the mattress during the shaking as well.
The kitchen holds both really early memories and much later ones. My grandma was an artist and I treasured the times we spent in the kitchen working on projects together. Sometimes she would have ceramic figurines ready for us to paint, and I’m not sure which I liked more: painting them myself or watching my artistic mom painting hers. Sometimes she would have iron-on crayon activities for us. One year she let us decorate pairs of underwear with our own designs. This was a fun thing for 6- and 8-year olds! Another year, she had us make designs that reminded us of special summer memories, and we ironed them on to bed-sheets, one for each of us kids.
I also have fond memories of my grandpa in the kitchen. The funniest was when Grandpa would throw spaghetti noodles onto the ceiling to see if they stuck. I think the idea was that if they didn’t, they weren’t yet ready to eat. But many years later, as a college student, the kitchen is where Grandpa and his wife Julie kindly taught me about American football. On the small kitchen TV, I watched my first football game. Can you believe it took me 19 years to see football? At the time, I was developing a friendship with a classmate who was quite athletic. Football was one of his sports, so Grandpa and Julie felt I should learn at least the basics. A month later, as I watched the Superbowl at Jeff’s house, I was glad that Grandpa and Julie had helped me out like that!
And finally, my very sweetest memory of Grandpa’s kitchen was when I was 21. My friend (now husband) Steve had graduated from Wheaton College in ’97 and was living back in San Diego. He and I had spent some time together over Christmas break, while my family was staying at Grandpa’s house. As a grand finale to our time together, I planned to “kidnap” him and take him out to coffee. I borrowed our family’s car, made arrangements with Steve’s parents, blindfolded him, and took him to Starbucks, where we had a great time to talk and pray together.
Then, not wanting the evening to end, Steve borrowed his dad’s car and took me for a driving tour of the hills above his neighborhoods of Escondido and Poway. We were both falling in love, but hadn’t said it yet. And as I drove back to Grandpa’s house at midnight, though I was on cloud nine, I was a bit worried about waking my family up when I arrived.
Imagine my surprise and delight, when my dad greeted me at the front door, and invited me into the kitchen for cups of cocoa. He wanted to hear all about my evening and all about Steve. He’d waited up for me and shared in my excitement. Because my parents and I had been an ocean apart for all my other dating experiences, I hadn’t gotten to share like that with them any other time. I thanked the Lord for a dad like mine, and for my Grandpa’s kitchen.