To Grandmother’s House We Go

gmas house

[Disclaimer: I’m writing today with a terrible head cold and hoping it all makes sense.]

Now that summer has finally arrived and I’m planning my holidays, I’ve been thinking about my childhood summer vacations with my family in the 1970s and ‘80s. Every few years, we’d drive from our home in Ottawa, Ontario, to Vancouver, BC, to visit my grandmother – a cross-country trip of 2,991 miles that took us through the forests of Ontario, the wide-open prairies, and finally the magnificent Rocky Mountains before we reached the west coast.

My grandmother’s house was built by my grandfather in 1949 on the gorgeous University of British Columbia endowment lands. My mom and her brother and sister grew up there. Grandpa died in 1969, and Grandma passed away fifteen years ago. She was a wonderful person, and I remember her home with a great deal of affection. Unfortunately, the house was demolished after it was sold.

The house may be gone, but the details still exist in my memory. The rippled texture of the wall paneling. The marbled vinyl floor tiles. The 1940s-style kitchen cupboards. I remember the particular echo of the rooms, and the warmth from the sunlight pouring through the windows. Upstairs, an old console radio stood next to the door leading to a stuffy attic that was cluttered with dusty treasures (vintage dolls, an old wool bathing suit, Grandpa’s glass eye!). An heirloom family portrait from about 1900 hung over the fireplace in the den, and the bookcase held a collection of antique books with ancestral signatures scrawled inside the covers. Some of those books are now on my bookshelf, the portrait hangs in my parents’ hallway, and Grandma’s table and chairs are in my living room.

My favourite memories of our summertime visits are mundane ones. Trying on my mother’s old clothes (and cat-eye glasses). Playing croquet on the back lawn with my sister and cousins. Lying on the grass and staring up at the blue sky, completely relaxed and absorbed in the sun-streaked clouds. The almost hypnotic procedure of collecting huckleberries off the bushes beside the driveway. Wandering the neighbourhood and admiring the extravagant gardens. A short walk took you to the UBC campus where my parents met in 1964. The ocean shoreline and coastal mountains were a few minutes’ drive away.

I wish I could take my kids to my grandmother’s house, but we’ll find different adventures, and they’ll have magical memories of their own to keep with them as they grow older.

[The painting above was done by my grandfather – my dad’s father – based on a photograph that was taken during an unusually snowy winter in Vancouver.]


About susanrhughes

Susan R. Hughes is a USA Today bestselling author of contemporary and historical romance. She lives in Ottawa, Ontario, with her husband and three children.
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13 Responses to To Grandmother’s House We Go

  1. E. Ayers says:

    Beautiful artwork! Your grandfather was a talented artist. Loved your trip down Memory Lane. It’s amazing what children remember and what sticks with them.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Joan Reeves says:

    A love letter to your childhood–how lovely, Susan. Such a beautiful house in the snowy setting. You should use the photo on a book cover.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Carol says:

    Your grandfather’s painting is wonderful! Oh the memories we could share of our grandparents. I feel for ones who didn’t have a relationship with grandparents. Thanks for a peek into your past.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. leighmorgan1 says:

    What a beautiful post, Susan. Still think of grandmothers daily. They live in my heart and are never far from my thoughts. The painting is so beautiful. What a treasure! Bet that 3000 mile journey was really something to behold as well. Hope you feel better soon!

    Liked by 1 person

    • susanrhughes says:

      I don’t think I appreciated how lucky I was to travel across the country and see so many things. I’ll probably never get to do that again.


  5. Kristy says:

    Love the painting! When I was little, we’d drive from our home in northern Washington to the Bighorn Basin in Wyoming. It was so hot, my crayons would melt if I left them in the car.

    Liked by 1 person

    • susanrhughes says:

      We took our Siamese cat with us. I remember letting her lick from my ice cream cone because she was so hot. No A/C in the car in those days!


  6. stephaniequeen says:

    Beautiful picture, beautiful sentiments. There’s nothing like Grandma’s house. I still remember my grandma’s house fondly though strangers live there now. Loved it.


    • susanrhughes says:

      My dad’s parents’ house is not far from me. It was sold in about 1991, but I still sometimes dream about it.


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