Another crazy story when I was a child, I'd wake up early in the morning before everyone else in the house was awake and slide into my brothers big boots, put on someones jacket over my flannel floral nighty, then sneak out the back door. I scurried around our pond, over the creek bridge, through the back gate to my adopted grandma Fannie's house. I opened the creaky huge wooden door (that was never locked) and the warmth of her home would kiss my face. The smell and comfort of the old house wrapped around me like a cozy embrace. Grandma Fannie would say, "Good morning Topsy!" I'd slip off my jacket, climb out of the boots, and find my place at the table. Her home was safe and filled with love. I'd always find grandma Fannie on those early mornings just getting the pot of coffee ready for the neighbors to come over for their morning cup of joe and reset button on life. There was something about her house that made everyone feel better.
Each adventurous visit to her house (without me knowing) grandma Fannie would call my mom, on her rotary phone, and let my mom know I made it safely to her house for the early morning coffee. I'd watch her stoke the big old wood stove and prepare the bread, butter, jam, and toaster. Her butter and jam toast was the best! She always wore a cotton dress, a cozy sweater, thick stockings, and cushy shoes that helped guide her steps around her warm and inviting house. We'd sit in her bright green kitchen at her 50's style kitchen table and chat. We'd chat about all the things while we'd drink coffee together. Yes, she introduced me to coffee. A splash of coffee with a tablespoon of sugar swimming in half and half. Stirred just perfectly and sipped with good company. Those chats at the table continued through my childhood and into my teens.
So many memories in that kitchen. Cookies, pies, coffee, saltine crackers with peanut butter and jelly, her cat, tea cups, flour on the floor, fudge, breakfast, dinner, jade glass, Brach's candy and sugar coated orange jelly slices in the candy dish. The candy dish - no matter how hard you tried to sneak a piece the glass always clanged. The cedar wood randomly creaking throughout the house. Her hands knitting booties, scarves, afghans, needle point, or cross stitch, crocheted beautiful pillow cases, and sewing buttons. Her property was spacious. Blueberry picking in her huge field, prize winning dahlias, apples galore, and a garden that produced all she needed and enough to share.
She was the most loving and beautiful human. Her unconditional love for everyone on Royal Ann Road was something to watch through my little girl eyes. She taught me so much. Nothing ever surprised her. Not one story shook or rattled her. She always remained constant. Her faith and strength were quiet and she embodied those beautifully through her wisdom and walk in life. I think her own obstacles she had to overcome in her own story made her the wife, sister, auntie, adopted mom and grandma - many of us desire to be.
Grandma Fannie lived to be 90 years old 1893-1983. I had the pleasure to walk through her door consistently for 17 years. Everything she taught me is part of my soul. Though she never had any children of her own, her legacy lives through the lives she embraced. We are better people because of her. Thank you Grandma Fannie.
Grandma Fannie is intertwined in The Dream Tree story through the character of my dad's Aunt Kathleen. I think they both would have loved having a cup of coffee together. I believe grandma Fannie reminded my dad of his dear aunt Kathleen. They seem to have created those safe spaces for both of us. Memories that make us smile and what we hoped to create for our own.