This is my favorite road in the world. It leads to Grandpa’s house. Grandpa lived in a large farm house that originated as one story. They added stories as the family grew, until it was a towering three stories tall full of eight kids. My mom is the oldest. We didn’t live nearby, like the other seven children did, but every Thanksgiving and after every Christmas, and sometimes in the summer, we would come by and stay for the weekend. I looked forward to those visits for weeks.
I loved playing with my cousins, especially exploring the house, the barn, the attic, and the creek. Grandpa had about ten pairs of humongous adult rubber boots we could borrow when we went to the creek (every year, we attempted to make a dam or a bridge to see what was on the other side w/o getting soaked up to our knees). This is the mud room, but used to be the kitchen when the house was just one story. The refrigerator in there was too cold, and our milk always had floating ice chips.
We couldn’t explore the whole 20 acres on foot, so we used the four wheelers. We drove recklessly through mud and blackberry bushes, getting whipped in the face every four seconds or so. It’s a miracle none of us ever died on one of those beasts.
Grandpa had a picture of each of us hanging in his hallway. Our parents before the door to the kitchen, the 24 of us grandkids after the kitchen. The Pelesky ones were rarely updated. I think Joel’s picture with a cloth crown and a matching outfit stayed up there until his senior picture.
Here is the incredibly unsafe barn. If memory serves, my sister fell out of those second story swinging doors once.
One Thanksgiving, nearly ten years ago, I decided to take pictures of Grandpa’s house. I wanted to always be able to remember it as I knew it as a child. The barn, the field, the creek, the greenhouse, Grandma’s garden, the strawberry patch, the pond, the trails, the raspberry rows, the attic, the old refridgerator. And how all of these landscapes contributed to some of my happiest memories. How they provided the setting for my favorite days.
Two and a half years ago, my grandpa passed. My mom and my aunts and uncles cleaned out the house and the barn, and rented it out to a family. This family doesn’t know my twenty cousins or my five uncles, my two aunts, or my mom. They don’t know that by the window was the most coveted seat at the dining room table, or that all of our pictures were hung in their hallway, or why there is a refrigerator and an old stove in the basement. They don’t know those old doors downstairs used to be the front of a much smaller house once upon a time, before all the rest of us happened.
Holidays aren’t the same, without Grandpa’s house for us all to gather in. Sure, we tried meeting at my aunt’s house, but it wasn’t the same: my uncle was in a frenzy making sure no one’s shoes were still on and that every drink had a coaster. But I guess that isn’t a bad thing. It shows us that things will change, and change makes us remember all that we had before. And I will never forget Grandpa, the man who made that house my favorite place in the world to be.