A walk down memory lane

{image via weheartit}

The week after my Granddad’s funeral, my sister and I – along with my Dad and uncle – went to my Granddad’s house. My Dad had to sort out some papers (insurances, mail service, bank accounts, etc.) and my sister and I wanted to rummage around and look for some hidden treasures from our childhood.

We spent a lot of time at my grandparents’ house when we were little and we were sure that we would find some cool stuff.

And we did! Along with many, many memories.

As I was wondering through my Granddad’s house that day, which was most likely the very last time that I’ll ever set foot into this house, I had a lump in my throat. It felt weird being there without him being there.
Somehow, I expected to hear the TV blasting from his living room or to hear him clatter around in the kitchen, but the house was silent.
I  took a picture of each room (does that make me weird?), so I’d remember what the house looked like from the inside. Although; this is kind of silly, since the memories of this house have been imprinted in my memory for so long that I’ll never forget what it looked like. Not in a million years.

It’s hard to describe, but do you know what I mean when I say that I used to have a different “spatial perception” when I was little? Even though the rooms look exactly the same, they still look “different” from how I remember them from my childhood. This once again proves to me that the human language is so limited, that there are no words to describe certain sensations and feelings. But maybe, just maybe, you know what I am talking about.

My sister and I went up to the attic, a place where we hadn’t been for years. The one little room up there wasn’t used for anything other than storage, so there was no need for anybody ever to go up there. We found some old toys and a board game (that is not available any longer, but which we both LOVED and apparently took really good care of as kids, because it was in like-new condition!). We also for the first time in years went back into my grandparents’ old bedroom. A bedroom where we had slept many, many times, before and after my Grandma died. It all looked the same, the style was never updated and probably dated back  to the 60’s.
The were the same random things standing around on my Grandma’s old dresser. Things we hadn’t thought of in ages, but things that both my sister and I distinctly remembered. A little wooden statue of the Virgin Mary, a white coral box, a brush.

It was strange to see my Granddad’s every day things lying around, as if he would come back to use them. A heating pad on his bedside table (he used that for back pain), his tooth brush in a cup above the bathroom sink. I even expected to see his wooden leg lean at the wall next to the window, as I looked around.  It had always been there and my Granddad never kept this a secret from us when we were little.
I guess we didn’t think anything of his amputated limb (a “souvenir” from WWII) and he made us feel as if it was the most normal thing in the world.

Oddly, the wooden leg wasn’t there. Somebody must have put it away. I don’t know if they took it to the hospital, when he was admitted. Would somebody think of bringing a wooden leg along? Anyway.

As we were standing there in my grandparents’ bedroom, my sister and I both remembered the same scenario. We were lying in bed, my Granddad in the middle, my sister and I tugged underneath the blanket right and left from him. We must have been 6 or 7. We urged my Granddad to tell us the story of Mowgli (the Jungle Book), a story that my Grandma used to tell us for bedtime.
My Granddad was struggling to come up with the story (as he had never told it before and “who the heck is Mowgli?”). He knew we were expecting to hear the same story my Grandma had told and for sure, my sister and I were merciless critics. We kept correcting him over and over on how “this was this way” and “no, that was that way”.
I smiled to myself. Those were wonderful memories.

Downstairs, we found a bunch of photos and a really cool scrapbook album that my Grandma had put together about her and my Granddad’s courtship. It literally made my heart melt to see all the effort and love that she had put into this! I wish I could have gotten to know my Grandma so much better. She actually wrote in rhyme-form throughout the whole album and she embellished every page with drawings and attached little keepsakes like postcards, buttons, etc.
(I see where I got my craftiness!! :))

We also took something from the house that is very precious to me and my sister: the last picture of my Grandma and Granddad together, before my Grandma died. This must have been in the early 80’s. This picture was sitting on my Granddad’s living room shelf (and this here is obviously a digital copy of it – there was no digital camera in the 80’s! Duh!) and I made copies for my Dad, my uncle, my sister and myself.


As far as I know, not many photos of my sister and I with my Grandma exist from when we were little. It was possibly due to the fact that she was battling breast cancer during all the years after we were born and there were periods of time when she didn’t feel well at all. Of course, my sister and I were too young to have noticed that. But this also left us with very little photographic evidence of the short time that we had with her. I think I physically have one other photo of her alone and then I recall one more photo where she’s holding my sister and I, but I have no idea where this photo is right now. Therefore, this photo of my Grandma and Granddad at one of the happier occasions during the final months (?) of her life is so very precious to me.
(The photo must have been taken at one of the “Schützenverein” (marksmen club)-events, because my Granddad is wearing his uniform. I also distinctly recall the necklace that my Grandma is wearing. I am not sure if that is still at my Granddad’s house somewhere, but my sister and I both said that we would love to have it. Isn’t it funny what random things you can recall from your early childhood?)

When my Granddad died, I realized that I’ve had so many questions for him that now will never be answered. We found a bunch of old photographs, which we gave to my great-aunt (my Grandma’s sister) to have her identify all the people in the pictures. Nobody will be able to tell who those people in the pictures are anymore, if she doesn’t shed some light on this. We have to take advantage of that as long as we are so lucky to have her around.

On one of the living room walls, I spotted a family picture, my Grandma and Granddad obviously much younger, with my Dad (left) and uncle (right). I love this photo for so many reasons – most of all because all four of them were still together. (On a side note, don’t you think I look a lot like my Dad when he was little?)


I think this was taken in the mid-50’s. My Granddad was in his 30’s back then and already going bald. Poor guy!

My Dad is pretty much bald now as well (thank God I am not a guy or I would go bald, too!) and I tell you a little secret. When I was little, my Granddad used to make fun of the fact that my Dad would go completely bald before long and I was so upset about this that I prayed every night that God wouldn’t take my Dad’s hair away. (Cute, eh?)
Not that I love him any less without the hair, but as a child I really couldn’t stand the thought of it.

Baldness was for Granddads!

Well, I guess, now it doesn’t matter anymore, because my Dad is a Granddad now! :)

All in all, it was a day of mixed feelings. Happy thoughts along with sadness that all things must pass, nostalgia paired with incredible gratefulness for the wonderful memories that will forever be.
As I am finishing this, a single tear is running down my cheek – but it’s a tear of sadness and joy alike.

  1. I can only say again how lucky you are to have been able to spend so much time with your grandfather. I never got to experience what having a grandfather is like.
    .-= Karen´s last blog ..A year I never forgot =-.

    1. Thank you, Karen. I didn’t know you never knew either of your Granddads. That somehow makes me sad for you.

      1. Yeah, they both died quite young (in their 50s or early 60s) before I was born. I just wrote on my blog about my grandparents tonight.
        .-= Karen´s last blog ..Grandparents: my story =-.

  2. What a beautiful post, San and what a wonderful family you have!
    .-= Antje´s last blog ..SPRING FEELINGS =-.

  3. I love looking at old pictures like that! When my grandpa died, the whole family got together at his and my grandma’s house, including all the cousins from other parts of the country that we never see anymore but spent a lot of time with as kids. We spent an entire day in the attic, trying on old clothes and digging through boxes of old pictures, re-living all the happy memories … it was our own version of celebrating his life!

    1. Oh, I love this, Holly. It is indeed a version of celebrating someone’s life!

  4. Grandparents and grandchildren have such a unique and special relationship. Though sad to visit the house one last time, I think it’s wonderful that it is a space filled with such endearing memories.

    I had a really special relationship with my dad’s parents, too. In fact, my engagement ring is a modern setting with the stone from my grandmother’s ring. Talk about special and significant.
    .-= Nilsa @ SoMi Speaks´s last blog ..Contest =-.

    1. Aww, that a wonderful and special memory of your Grandma, having a stone from her ring in your engagement ring.

  5. You know a few years ago, I wrote a post where I walked through my grandparents house in my mind. Remembering all the little things ( https://www.dackelprincess.com/?p=406 )
    They have both been gone 25 years now and I miss them so much. I was lucky to have them as long as I did.
    I think you look like your father and grandfather! Except the hair! ;)
    .-= Maribeth´s last blog ..Springtime Colds =-.

    1. Thank you for sharing the link, Maribeth. It’s wonderful how everybody can live forever in our hearts!

  6. I share your single tear of both joy and sadness, thinking of my grandparents…

    1. Thank you for commenting ;)

  7. finding pictures like that always makes things a little bittersweet but lovely nonetheless. such a beautiful post and so glad your family is so close and came together, seems to make it all a little better.
    .-= katelin´s last blog ..Hollywood go round. =-.

    1. It did indeed makes things better, you’re so right!

  8. You have the greatest family!
    .-= Stefanie´s last blog ..What to do after blizzard season. =-.

      1. yes, you do! :)
        .-= kim´s last blog ..Protected: breathing =-.

  9. awww, I know exactly how you feel. My grandpa passed away in ’04 and I did the same thing. My grandma still lives in the same house but it is different now. Memories are a great and sometimes sad thing! I love it that you had such a good childhood!!!!! HUG!!!
    .-= Tinka´s last blog ..Life is Wonderful =-.

  10. As I was reading this, I was picturing MY grandparents’ house! My grandfather (Puppie) died when I was 12, and we lost my Grandma almost 7 years ago. We sold their house 5 years ago, but I still remember every detail of being there when I was little!
    .-= ToBeAnnounced´s last blog ..New Toy =-.

    1. I am glad this post made you remember your own grandparents! Good memories!

  11. Oh, San. This is such a beautiful post, and I’ll admit you really had me tearing up! It’s rare that a blog post can bring tears to my eyes but this one really hit me close to home.

    My dad was the youngest of 5 childen, and he was born to my grandparents when they were in their 40’s (crazy, eh? Haha…) So that meant, my grandparents were old for as long as I knew them. I adored them. Their house was the only place I could ever really call “home” because my family moved around so much and we were never in one place for long. But they were always there…their house is the one memory that is imprinted on my brain, and if I close my eyes at night I can still imagine it clearly, and smell the smells and see every little detail. I loved that house, so much.

    But, my grandma died when I was 9, and then my grandpa died a few days before my 14th birthday. It was the hardest thing I ever experienced, my first taste of love and loss and it was so awful, I cried myself to sleep for a long time. It’s weird because even though it’s much easier to deal with now that it’s been such a long time, it’s like the smallest things will rip it right open again and I feel the loss as though it happened yesterday. And this makes me happy…in a strange way. I don’t want to forget them, I don’t ever want to ever be any less sad that they are gone, or miss them any less. Even though I am able to live my daily life just fine, I need to be able to feel that pain when I do take the time to think about them, because it lets me know that they were real and that it makes me feel like they are still around in strange way. Anyway…I’m just blabbing now, this post is about you and not me. ;) But I am totally teary eyed, haha.

    Anyway. I am so sorry for your loss. But it’s those good memories that make everything ok. It’s the memories of them that you’ll cherish always, that make them immortal, that make them continue to be there even when they’re gone.

    .-= Lisa´s last blog ..The one where I make a big confession, and give myself a pep talk. =-.

    1. Thank you so much, Lisa, for sharing your story. I totally agree… these raw feelings of pain are necessary every once in a while to remind us that those people, those feelings were real and that we’ll never forget them.

  12. This was a wonderful and beautiful post, love. It’s so emotional seeing old photographs, and revisiting old rooms – my dad recently brought back a load of his parents’ old photos, letters, receipts, trinkets… and it’s incredible to see. We recently found out my nan has to move into a care home instead of back to her house after she gets out of the hospital, and I can’t imagine how hard it will be for whoever goes back through the house to pack everything up – I can’t imagine not being there feeling the warmth of the too-hot radiators the second you walk in the door, not hearing the TV blaring too loudly, not smell the overboiled vegetables and roast cooking in the oven – I spent my whole childhood in that house. I was definitely teary eyed reading your post, and even more so now!
    .-= Emily Jane´s last blog ..A call, an answer, and to new beginnings =-.

    1. Em, I remember your post about the old photos and memories your Dad brought back from England! I really hope you’ll be able to visit your Nan in the near future.

  13. This is so beautiful- my grandparents on one side passed away when I was very young, about ten? I still have incredibly vivid memories of what their house was like, its layout, the furniture… and this week I just sat down and wrote it down. I don’t want to forget, you know?

    I’m odd like that. I started getting into crafty things because I never really knew my grandma and grandpa, and learning to make jellies and pickles, and to bake and sew are things that bring me closer to her a little.

    I’m so sorry for your loss, but by the pictures they were kind and loving people- they look very happy. What more can we hope for? =)

  14. I love your post! I spend a lot of time with my grandparents as well and I hope my almost 95year old grandma will still be around a while. I’m so scared to get this call one day!! How great is it that you were able to go through every room and share the memories with your sis.
    Take care!

  15. There is something that I just love so much about old photographs. And I adore that quote in the beginning. So simple but beautiful.


    Hannah Katy

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